How long did fetus live? Colorado DA weighing murder charges

Colorado DA delays charging suspect accused of assaulting stranger, cutting baby from her body

A Colorado district attorney’s office needs more time in determining whether the woman accused of cutting a fetus out of its mother, possibly killing the baby, will be charged with murder.

Dynel Lane, 34, was supposed to be charged Wednesday in the March 18 attack, but Boulder County district attorney spokeswoman Catherine Olguin said the office needs more time for its review.

“We are still waiting on the autopsy results and detectives' reports,” Olguin said.

The autopsy was conducted Friday, the Times-Call reported.

Lane was arrested the day of the assault at a hospital in Longmont, a Denver suburb, with a fetus she allegedly cut out of a woman whom she lured to her home with an online ad for baby clothes, Longmont police said. Lane told her husband and hospital staff she miscarried, police said.

The baby, seven months along, died. The mother, identified by police as 26-year-old Michelle Wilkins, underwent surgery and is expected to survive.

The day after Lane was arrested, Boulder County Dist. Atty. Stan Garnett told reporters his office must determine whether a murder charge is appropriate because the baby did not survive.

“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,” Garnett told reporters March 19.

According to the criminal complaint, Lane’s husband, who was unaware of what his wife had done, told police the baby was alive when he saw it in the couple’s home.

“He rubbed the baby slightly, then rolled it over to hear and see it take a gasping breath,” according to the complaint.

Protesters gathered the day after Lane was arrested, saying the suspect should be charged with murder, the Daily Camera reported. 

"Murder is murder," said Renee Jacoby, who organized the rally, according to the Camera. "It doesn't matter how you look at it. ... It is a human being. It is murder."

Olguin said Tuesday nothing had been ruled out. 

“We are looking at all possible charges,” she said, declining to speculate further.

The expectant mother’s assailant “beat, cut and strangled her … then removed her unborn daughter with an ordinary kitchen knife,” according to a statement from the Wilkins family issued through police Friday. “Her medical condition is guardedly optimistic, and we hope for a full physical recovery.”

Wilkins was able to call 911 from her assailant's home, where she was left alone in a room after being assaulted, police said. Lane's husband believed she was pregnant and is not a suspect in the case, according to the criminal complaint. Lane also told her two teenage children she was pregnant, the complaint states. 

Lane was arrested on suspicion of attempted first-degree murder, first-degree assault and child abuse knowingly and recklessly resulting in death. She is being held on a $2-million bond.

Formal charges are expected to be filed Friday afternoon, Olguin said.

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