A woman who viciously cut a baby from a mother’s womb was sentenced to 100 years in prison Friday for beating and attempting to murder the mother. The child died as a direct result of the actions, yet the woman will not face murder charges.
Dynel Lane was convicted in February of attempted first-degree murder after she stabbed a pregnant woman in her home who had responded to a Craiglist ad offering to sell baby clothes. Lane then cut the unborn child out of her womb. She later showed up at the hospital with the dead body, claiming to have had a miscarriage. The mother, Michelle Wilkins, had planned to name the girl Aurora.
Lane was convicted in February of attempted first-degree murder, four counts of assault and one count of unlawful termination of a pregnancy. But because the prosecution could not prove the girl, two weeks shy of nine months, took a breath outside the womb, Lane could not be charged with murder.
“Under Colorado law, essentially, there’s no way murder charges can be brought if it’s not established that the fetus lived as a child outside the body of the mother for some period of time,” Boulder County District Attorney Stanley Garnett said early on in the process.
Hospital staff noted the dead baby was “viable” outside the womb, and Lane’s husband told police he heard the baby make a “gasping breath” after he found her lying in the bathtub and rolled her over. Investigators, however, determined her lungs had not inflated, and the coroner ruled the death a “fetal demise,” which is legally similar to a miscarriage.
After the attack, Colorado Democrats blocked a legislative push to pass a fetal homicide law.
Wilkins survived the attack and addressed Lane in court Friday before her sentence was handed down, reiterating that she forgives her but expressed anguish. She set up a large photo of Aurora wrapped in a blanket at the front of the courtroom facing Lane, reports The Denver Post.
“This is a picture of her,” she said, later adding: “The only tears that you cried during the trial were those of your own self pity.”
Wilkins’ father Mark told the court Aurora’s death caused permanent damage, and asked the judge to impose the maximum sentence. Wilkins’ mother and sister agreed in addresses to the judge.
“This event has shattered our lives,” Wilkins said. “Some things just cannot be fixed.”
Lane’s lawyers said she plans to appeal her conviction.
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