Wednesday 3 April 2024

Four Pro-Lifers Face Prison Time After Being Convicted In Federal Court

  Four pro-life Christians were convicted on Tuesday of FACE Act violations after they were charged by the Biden administration over a peaceful protest at a Tennessee abortion facility.

The four found guilty are Eva Edl, Eva Zastrow, James Zastrow, and Paul Place. They face a year in prison and thousands of dollars in fines upon sentencing. They are currently sent to be sentenced on July 30.

The decision came after a one day bench trial, meaning that the defendants’ fate was in the hands of Middle District of Tennessee Magistrate Judge Chip Frensly. Frensly agreed with the Justice Departments allegations that the pro-lifers had violated the law and found them guilty.

The judge deliberated for less than half an hour. Immediately after the convictions, the defendants and their families went outside the courthouse to sing and pray.

DOJ prosecuting attorney Amanda Klopf said that the case was about the rule of law and that the four had engaged in criminal activity and not a protest. During the DOJ’s final arguments, lawyer Kyle Boynton said that the four were “not on trial for their beliefs,” but for their actions.

Lawyers for the defendants said that their clients were just practicing their faith in a peaceful manner. Place’s lawyers said that the trial demonstrated massive overreach by the federal government, saying that the Biden administration was prosecuting “people who were simply expressing their beliefs in a non-violent way.” Edl’s lawyer said that the group was there to “pray and sing and worship” and persuade women to not go forward with abortions.

Charges were brought against the four after they participated in a peaceful pro-life protest at the Carafem abortion facility in Mt Juliet, Tennessee on March 5, 2021. On that day, a group of demonstrators gathered on the second floor of an office building in the hallway outside Carafem. The group prayed, sang hymns, and urged women showing up to the clinic to not get abortions. The trial took place at the Fred Thompson federal courthouse in Nashville.

Photos were displayed at the trial showing the four sitting in front of the door to Carafem, but their lawyers argued that the DOJ never proved they had actually blocked anyone from entering or actually inhibited the activities of the staff of the facility.

Testimony was heard from a former worker at Carafem, a Mt. Juliet police officer who processed the pro-lifers arrested on March 5, a woman who had an appointment at the facility the morning of the trial, and Caroline Davis who was one of those arrested at the protest before taking a plea deal and agreed to testify for the government.

Much of the DOJ’s case rested on Davis, who repeatedly said that she had a “massive change in perspective and beliefs” after her participation.


The courtroom gallery was packed with dozens of supporters of those on trial. A group of supporters and family members gathered Tuesday morning before the trial to pray and sing hymns like “Holy, Holy, Holy,” and “When I Survey the Wondrous Cross.”

Edl, who grew up in Eastern Europe and survived a Communist concentration camp, spoke briefly before the trial began, saying, “Whatever happens, we are in the Lord’s hands.”

In January, six others at the protest were convicted of conspiracy against civil rights and FACE Act violations. They face over 10 years in prison and hundreds of thousands in fines.

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