Jurors in stolen baby trial won't hear about cause of death

AP News
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Posted: Feb 18, 2016 8:54 PM
Jurors in stolen baby trial won't hear about cause of death

BOULDER, Colo. (AP) — Jurors in the trial of a woman charged with cutting an unborn baby out of another woman's womb will not hear testimony about the cause and manner of the baby's death, the judge ruled Thursday.

Attorneys for defendant Dynel Lane argued the information would be unduly prejudicial to her, the Longmont Times-Call reported (http://tinyurl.com/zvoc6j7 ). Jurors were not in the courtroom when Judge Maria Berkenkotter heard the arguments and made her ruling.

Lane is charged with attempted first-degree murder, assault and unlawful termination of a pregnancy in the March 2015 attack on Michelle Wilkins in Longmont.

Defense attorney Jennifer Beck argued Lane wasn't charged with any crime against the unborn girl, so the fetus was not legally a victim and details of the death weren't relevant to the case.

District Attorney Stan Garnett said earlier that prosecutors couldn't charge Lane in the baby's death because a coroner found no evidence the fetus lived outside the womb.

That angered conservatives in the Colorado Legislature, who had previously tried but failed to enact a law making it a crime to kill a fetus. Colorado's law against unlawful termination of a pregnancy was a compromise that stemmed from earlier debates on the issue.

Lane is accused of luring the nearly eight-months-pregnant Wilkins to her house by advertising free maternity clothes, then cutting the baby from her abdomen and claiming the child was her own.

The baby, a girl, was declared dead after Lane and her boyfriend took her to the hospital.

Wilkins lost consciousness after the attack, but she came to and called 911. She was rushed to the same hospital, where she underwent surgery lasting several hours, Dr. Kevin Berg testified Thursday.

Berg said Wilkins might have lost more than half her blood.

Garnett said Lane was obsessed with pregnancy and pretended she was expecting.

Police Detective Sara Pierce testified Thursday that Lane told some people through Facebook she had given birth to a baby boy, while telling others she was still pregnant but overdue.

Pierce, who specializes in computer forensics, also said she did not find any Internet searches involving cesarean section operations.

Earlier in the day, Dr. Brian Nelson, a surgeon who operated on Wilkins, said the C-section Lane is accused of performing was "pretty decent."

Defense attorneys say Lane attacked Wilkins on impulse and didn't intend to kill her.

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Information from: Daily Times-Call, http://timescall.com/

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Information from: Daily Times-Call, http://timescall.com/