DENVER — A defense investigator in a Colorado death penalty case remained behind bars after refusing again on Wednesday to testify for prosecutors, saying that helping their effort to execute a defendant would violate her religious beliefs.
Greta Lindecrantz, a Mennonite who opposes capital punishment, faced a third night in jail and possibly more after telling Judge Michelle Amico that her position hasn’t changed.
“I feel like I’m having to choose between you and God,” Lindecrantz, wearing a blue jail uniform and shackles on her arms, said.
Outside the courtroom before the hearing, fellow Mennonites sang hymns in support of Lindecrantz.
Lindecrantz was jailed Monday after she repeatedly refused to answer questions about her work on the defense team of Robert Ray, one of three men on Colorado’s death row.
Lindecrantz also refused to answer questions in court Tuesday and was returned to jail.
Attorney Mari Newman said Lindecrantz had been sick all morning and needs medical care. He noted that Lindecrantz could have been allowed to remain free while she appeals the contempt order.
Amico cut Newman’s arguments off and said she would intervene if Lindecrantz’s health concerns aren’t addressed.
Amico said the contempt order appeal also means that Lindecrantz’s fate now rests with “someone higher than me.”
Ray’s defense team is challenging his death sentence partly by arguing that he did not have an effective legal team.
Prosecutors apparently subpoenaed Lindecrantz to testify to back up their case that he did have good representation. They previously questioned Ray’s original lawyers as part of the appeal proceedings.
Newman said Lindecrantz worked for those lawyers and noted that prosecutors already have access to Lindecrantz’s report and other documents on her work.
The lawyer said Lindecrantz would testify if not for the possibility that her testimony could be used to put Ray to death. She said Lindecrantz compared her predicament to being asked to shoot a gun at Ray, not knowing if it was loaded.
“She cannot be a cog in the machinery of death,” Newman said.
Amico ruled that Lindecrantz must testify because her effectiveness in Ray’s defense has been questioned and there is no substitute for her testimony.
Ray and co-defendant Sir Mario Owens were sentenced to death for the 2005 killings of Javad Marshall-Fields and his fiancee Vivian Wolfe. Marshall-Fields had witnessed an earlier shooting that Owens was convicted of.
Vikki Migoya, a spokeswoman for District Attorney George Brauchler, said the office would not comment on Lindecrantz because it usually does not talk outside court about proceedings, especially when many of the filings have been sealed.
One of Ray’s defense lawyers, Greg Greer, did not return a telephone message seeking comment.
Closing arguments in the appeal had been expected Wednesday. However, the Colorado Independent, which was the first to report Lindecrantz’s jailing, reported that the prosecution and defense said they cannot present their arguments because Ray’s claims about having ineffective counsel are linked with those that prosecutors withheld key evidence from the original defense team during trial.