Dynel Lane, a Colorado woman, who allegedly lured a pregnant woman to a house and forcefully removed the fetus from her womb, will not be charged with murder, prosecutors reportedly said. Lane, a 34-year-old former nurse's aide, is expected to be formally charged on Friday but it's not clear what charges she will face.
Colorado is one of 12 states to not recognize a fetus as a person unless it is capable of surviving outside the womb for some time, though the law is not clear on how long the fetus should survive. Lane is currently being held on a $2 million bond. Her husband, David Riley, told the police that he found the baby on the day of the attack in the bathtub, taking a breath, CNN reported. The mother Michelle Wilkins, 26, was answering a Craigslist ad for baby clothes on March 18, when she was attacked, beaten up, cut open and her fetus removed.
After the attack, Wilkins reportedly locked herself up in the room and called the police. While Wilkins survived the attack, the baby that was removed from her, died. Phil Piotrowski, one of the officers who responded to the call from Wilkins, told KDVR, a CNN affiliate, that Wilkins was covered in blood when they reached her.
“When I walked in and looked at her for a short moment, I actually had to walk out for a second because my head wasn’t able to wrap around it,” Piotrowski said, according to KDVR, adding: “She is probably one of the strongest people I’ve ever had the pleasure to meet.”
District Attorney Stan Garnett is expected to release more information on Lane’s trial on Friday, and about the decision on why they did not charge her with murder. The coroner's office is also expected to release the findings of an autopsy performed on the baby on Friday.
“We cannot begin to fathom the depths of depravity and evil which drove her attacker, and trust that between law enforcement and our legal system; they will make sure justice is carried out,” Wilkins’ family said in a statement, according to KDVR.
The case has shocked the local community and sparked a debate on whether the state should recognize an unborn child as a person. The move was voted down in 2013 by state legislators, who were worried that it could interfere with abortion rights, NBC News reported. In 2014, voters reportedly rejected a similar ballot measure and agreed not to recognize an unborn fetus as a person.
However, advocates say that the attack highlights the need for a fetal homicide law while legal experts have argued that a person can be charged with homicide if the baby survived outside of the mother, according to the Associated Press. In 2013, legislators in Colorado reportedly passed a measure that would make it a felony to violently cause a fetus’ death and, if found guilty under the law, a person can be sentenced up to 32 years in jail.