Dynel Lane received a 100-year sentence behind bars for attempted murder and unlawful termination of a pregnancy. In February, the 36-year-old Colorado woman was convicted for beating Michelle Wilkins unconscious, then cutting the woman’s unborn baby from her womb.
Describing the attack as performing a C-section with a kitchen knife, Judge Maria Berkenkotter handed down the unforgiving sentence on Friday afternoon. Lane received 48 years for attempted murder and 32 years for unlawful termination of a pregnancy. The rest of her punishment was for assault.
In March, 2015, Dynel Lane placed a Craigslist ad for free maternity clothes that attracted the unsuspecting Michelle Wilkins to her house, about 40 miles from Denver. Wilkins, who was seven months pregnant at the time, was brutally beaten just before the former nurse’s aide cut open her uterus and removed the fetus.
According to court testimony, Lane had been faking her own pregnancy for months before meeting Wilkins. On the day of the attack, Lane told her partner that she’d had a miscarriage. The partner had no idea Wilkins was in the basement cut open and slowly dying.
While doing her best to stop the bleeding, Wilkins managed to call 911. Wilkins survived the attack, but her unborn baby girl did not.
During the trial, Lane’s attorney did not deny the fetus was cut out of Wilkins by the defendant, but claimed the attack was unplanned and in self-defense. The defense argued Lane was trying to save the baby’s life and an attempted murder charge is not warranted in this case. However, the jury didn’t see it that way.
With a poster-sized picture of her lifeless baby named Aurora facing court observers, Wilkins called Lane’s actions a “narcissistic fantasy” and asked the judge for the harshest sentence possible.
“You knowingly left me to die multiple times,” Wilkins told Lane in a victim impact statement. “The only tears you shed during the trial were those of self-pity, to the sound of your own voice as your lies were slowly revealed.”
Lane’s mother, Carol DeHerrera, also spoke to the court during the sentencing hearing. She said her daughter was desperate to have another child ever since her son accidentally drowned in 2002.
Under the advice of her attorney, Lane did not speak on her own behalf prior to sentencing. However, the judge used Lane’s silence when weighing her decision. The judge noted that Wilkins, her family members, as well as the community are “hungry” to hear some sentiment of remorse from Lane for the crimes.
District Attorney Stan Garnett asked the court to give Lane the maximum sentence of 118 years in prison.
“It won’t bring Aurora back, but it will send a message about human life,” he said.
Kathryn Herold, an attorney who represents Lane, requested the sentences run concurrently. She also plans to appeal the convictions.
After the hearing, Wilkins seemed satisfied with the verdict.
“For me, it felt gratifying to be seen and acknowledged by the judge. Judge Berkenkotter was clearly listening to everything that we were saying. In this whole process, it’s hard to feel acknowledged because Dynel in any outward sense is not taking any accountability except in the judicial process. So in that sense, it feels that justice was served.”
Prosecutors were not able to charge Lane with homicide since Aurora never took a breath outside of Wilkins’ body. Colorado law does not recognize a fetus as a person unless it is capable of living outside a mother’s womb for at least a short period.
While showing little emotion during her trial, Dynel Lane did cry when her sentence was read. Michelle Wilkins expressed forgiveness, but said she still holds a lot of anger since the attack.
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