Shapley explains reluctance to testify

KINGMAN ­ Candi Shapley, the alleged victim and key witness in the trial against Colorado City man Randolph Barlow, wrote a letter to Mohave County Superior Court Judge Steven Conn in early August explaining her reluctance to testify at the trial.

She refused to testify at Barlow's trial on Aug. 29. She was then held in contempt of court by Conn and ordered to serve a monitored sentence in Kingman for 30 days.

By request from the county attorney's office, Shapley was released two weeks into her monitored living. The letter, obtained by the Miner this week, runs five pages, with Shapley's signature on the last page. The letter is directed to Conn.

Shapley expressed strong dissatisfaction in the letter in regards to the way she was treated by the prosecution and said she felt angry for being used as a tool to bring down Warren Jeffs, the spiritual leader of the FLDS.

On June 6, the state flew her from Salt Lake City to Kingman to testify in front of a grand jury while her young baby was ill and ready to undergo brain surgery, Shapley wrote in the letter.

Because of worries about her baby's health, Shapley said she told the grand jury "whatever they wanted me to say" in order to go back to her baby.

The state, after promising her nothing in the grand jury testimony would be leaked out, actually disclosed the content of the testimony to the media right away. The news immediately put Shapley in the spotlight, and media started to chase her around. Some media members even waited in front of her house looking for interviews.

"I was very harassed (by the media), thanks to Matt (County Attorney Matt Smith) and his cronies," Shapley said in the letter.

Shapley described her contact with county Special Investigator Gary Engels as unpleasant, and said Engels told her directly she would be used to bring down Warren Jeffs.

"He said that he did not care how I felt or anyone else, that he was going to bring Warren Jeffs down. So this was really about Warren Jeffs. They don't care about me or me being a supposed victim," Shapley wrote.

In the months prior to the trial on Aug. 29, Shapley said that prosecutors had ordered her to testify in the trial or she might face jail time. They, Shapley said, also threatened to arrest her parents because they believed her parents tried to block her from testifying at the jury trial because of their supposed loyalty to Jeffs.

Shapley said she tried to explain her real thoughts to Engels and Smith, but they weren't interested in what she thought.

"I certainly don't feel like I have been justly dealt with. I am the supposed victim. I didn't feel too bad about testifying when this began. But now I am angry. I have been treated like someone with no feelings," Shapley wrote.

"They don't care about me. They are just using me to try to get at Warren Jeffs. I am sick of it, and I don't intend to take it anymore," Shapley wrote.

In the letter, Shapley claimed she had a wonderful family and a happy childhood, and she felt like she was ready to face a marriage when her parents arranged a plural marriage between her and Randolph Barlow. Court files suggested she was 16 or 17 years old at the time of the marriage.

Shapley admitted that her married life was more difficult than she thought it would be, but argued, "tell me, have you never had problems in your married life? Is there anyone who has not had problems?"

Shapley later escaped from the plural marriage, moved out of the polygamous community and broke ties with the FLDS church.

Smith said he was aware of the existence of such a letter and familiar with the content.

"I agree there were some things that could have been handled better by my office. However, what's in the letter has been greatly exaggerated and might have been influenced by the members of FLDS church, more specifically Candi's parents. They have indicated they would do anything they can to protect Warren Jeffs and indicated they do not want Candi to testify in any of those cases," Smith said.

Shapley, in the company of her parents, had visited Barlow's defense attorney Bruce Griffen's office in Flagstaff twice separately in recent months.

Smith said he had reason to believe Shapley's parents had put pressure on Shapley to write the letter.

As the prosecutor, Smith said he was in a tough position to dispute this letter. Though he did not agree with what Shapley claimed in the letter, Smith did not want to question Shapley's credibility, the lack of which could also be used by Griffen to attack her in the trial.

Smith said he also did not want to anger Shapley with negative comments. Smith said he had a candid conversation with Shapley before she was released from monitored living, and he hoped Shapley could testify in the rescheduled trial on Tuesday.

Mik Jordahl, Shapley's attorney, also confirmed the existence of such a letter but refused to get into details citing the case is still ongoing.

Jordahl said his client has returned to her residence after being released, but made no deal or promise to either side of the case.

Jordahl said Shapley would certainly think about whether to testify at the rescheduled trial, but there is no sign so far she has changed her mind.

"She was clearly caught right in the middle, suffering pressure from both prosecutor and the wishes of many people from Colorado City. So I believe it's not an easy decision to make," Jordahl said.

Jordahl hinted the trial on Tuesday might be further postponed if his client needs more time to weigh her options.

Barlow, the defendant in the case, faces two counts of sexual conduct with a minor, both Class 6 felonies. If convicted, he could receive a sentence of anywhere between four months and two years in prison or receive probation.

Barlow and Shapley's parents are believed to be members of the FLDS church, a sect that believes plural marriage is a sacred part of their religious practice.