Prosecutors in Kentucky are trying to force the wife of Bobbie Joe Clary to testify in court. They allege that Geneva Case overheard her wife admit to murdering a man. While Kentucky law prohibits prosecutors from forcing or requiring spouses to testify against each other, the state does not recognize the civil union that the two entered into in 2004.
Case is refusing to testify against her wife citing spousal privilege under Kentucky Rule 504. That rule states that “The spouse of a party has a privilege to refuse to testify against the party as to events occurring after the date of their marriage.” One of Clary’s attorneys, Angela Elleman, said that a ruling on whether or not this will apply to Case is “going to have a huge impact.”
She stated that “It’s going to come up again and again and again” as lesbians and gays marry in other states and then come home to states banning same-sex marriage. In fact, this is why the Full Faith and Credit Clause exists in the United States Constitution.
According to Stacy Grieve, Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney, “Our position is that Ms Case and Ms Clary are not in a valid marriage under Kentucky law.”
In the end, it willb e up to the Kentucky courts to decide, and this may end up appealed all the way to the US Supreme Court.
Prosecutors maintain that “The murder happened here and we have to follow the laws of Kentucky. That the ceremony is not a ‘marriage’ is valid and recognized under Kentucky law. Geneva Case and the defendant cannot prove the existence of a marriage under Kentucky law.”
Elleman’s response to that is “The right to marry, including the right to marry whom one chooses, is a fundamental right firmly entrenched in American culture and in constitutional law. Kentucky apparently recognizes that convicted felons have a protected right to marry, yet law-abiding homosexuals are denied legal recognition of their marriage.”
Clary’s lawyers maintain that the two women are legally married and to deny their marriage is a violation of the US Constitution.
Clary is facing charges relating to the robbery and murder of George Murphy in 29 October 2011. According to the prosecutors, Case overheard Clary admit to killing Murphy and oversaw Clary clearing the blood out of Murphy’s van. Clary has not denied the charge, and has said that Murphy was in the process of raping her when she grabbed a hammer and hit him in the head. She then tried to cover up the crime out of panic, and that the whole incident was self defense.
The court is set to hear this beginning on 30 July. It is unclear how the US Supreme Court’s upcoming ruling on same-sex marriage will impact this case.