Jury considers case against Colorado woman who cut out stranger's fetus

Reuters News
Posted: Feb 22, 2016 4:05 PM

By Keith Coffman

BOULDER, Colo. (Reuters) - Jurors on Monday were weighing the case of a Colorado woman accused of luring a pregnant stranger to her home with a Craigslist ad, attacking her and removing her fetus because she wanted to pass the baby off as her own.

Dynel Catrece Lane faces up to 140 years if convicted of the March 2015 attempted murder and assault of the pregnant woman, Michelle Wilkins, as well as unlawful termination of a pregnancy in the case, which renewed arguments over whether a fetus is a person.

Prosecutor Catrina Weigel said in closing arguments Monday that Lane, who had falsely told her husband that she was pregnant, was "obsessed" with pregnancy and wanted a newborn to prove that she had carried a child.

"The defendant needed a baby and Michelle Wilkins had one," Weigel said.

Lane lured Wilkins, a stranger who was seven months pregnant, to her home in the Denver-area town of Longmont with a Craigslist ad for maternity and baby clothes, Weigel said. Lane then attacked Wilkins with a lava lamp, stabbing her with broken shards of glass, and cut out her unborn baby girl.

When Lane's husband came home, she told him she had a miscarriage, and he rushed her and Wilkins' dead fetus to the hospital.

Wilkins, who had been left bleeding on a bed in the basement while the couple went to the hospital, was eventually able to make a 911 call and direct rescuers to the home, despite drifting in and out of consciousness.

She survived and testified in the case.

Lane pleaded not guilty in the case, but she did not testify or call witnesses on her behalf.

On Monday, her court-appointed lawyer said in her closing argument that the attack was unplanned, urging jurors to consider the lesser charge of attempted manslaughter instead of attempted murder.

"Miss Lane did not intend to kill Miss Wilkins," the lawyer, Kathryn Herold, said.

Lane was not charged with murdering the fetus because the unborn girl never took a breath outside the womb and as a result did not meet the state's definition of a living person.

The jury was expected to render its verdict this week.

(Writing by Sharon Bernstein; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)