A Mount Vernon woman who repeatedly has been arrested for trespassing at a Woodbridge car dealership will be evaluated for mental competency after maintaining in court Tuesday that God is ordering her to go to the lot.
The case against Marilyn Cole, 40, of 4420 Scarborough Square, appeared to baffle Prince William County General District Court Judge Wenda K. Travers for a time Tuesday morning following calm, often rational testimony from Cole that God told her to get a free vehicle from Malloy Lincoln Mercury & Mitsubishi.
Cole testified she knew she had been ordered to stay away from the dealership, at 14655 Jefferson Davis Highway, after being convicted of trespassing there in May and September 2003. But she kept returning because God – through the Bible – had told her to do so, and God’s authority, she said, is higher than man’s laws.
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“To take a stand that I feel that God is telling me to take, I have to accept whatever comes from that,” Cole said, referring to a likely jail sentence.
“Never was I rude. I’ve never cussed anybody,” she testified. “I did raise my voice once calling on Jesus’ name.”
Cole said she asked Malloy for the free vehicle because “that’s where I was sent … I just go every time I’m ordered” through scripture readings.
Two Malloy employees testified Cole came to the business twice on Dec. 19, 2003, once on both Jan. 5 and Jan. 17, each time requesting a free vehicle from the dealership and refusing to leave.
The employees and one arresting Prince William police officer all said they felt Cole was sincere in her belief that God was ordering her to the business and that she was polite, did not resist arrest and never appeared to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Cole’s defense attorney, William “Jim” Baker, said while his client’s claim was strange, she did not appear to be incompetent to stand trial and Judge Travers agreed.
“I’m not familiar with any scripture … that God has ever commanded someone to give up something they didn’t want to give up,” Travers said.“I don’t know, maybe I’m wrong,” she told Cole. “It doesn’t seem like the kind of request God would make.”
Travers said that although she found Cole mentally competent and guilty of three counts of trespassing, she would order a mental health evaluation before sentencing her March 8.
“They’re gonna tell me there’s no mental illness here,” Travers said, agreeing with Baker that the issue seemed to be one of religious interpretation rather than a mental disorder.