A Colorado woman could face more than 100 years in prison after a jury convicted her Tuesday for stabbing a pregnant woman and removing her fetus.
Dynel Lane, 35, was found guilty of attempted first-degree murder, assault, unlawful termination of a pregnancy and three more felony counts, the Denver Post reported.
Her victim, 27-year-old Michelle Wilkins, said the jury’s decision was “a triumph for justice,” the newspaper reported.
“I do not hate Dynel, but I am angry for all the pain that she caused,” Wilkins said. “It had just never entered my world view that someone could be so cruel.”
In March 2015, Wilkins went to the house in Longmont, Colo., after seeing a Craigslist ad offering free maternity clothes.
She soon found herself in a life-or-death struggle with Lane, who, according to investigators, attacked Wilkins, cut the 7-month-old fetus out of her abdomen using two kitchen knives, then took the fetus to a hospital, where she claimed she had suffered a miscarriage.
Lane pleaded not guilty to the charges against her. She now faces up to 120 years in prison, the Denver Post reported.
A judge set the sentencing date for April, Reuters reported.
Defense attorneys argued that the attack was unplanned and driven by impulse, according to the Denver Post. Lane didn’t intend to kill Wilkins in the “hasty, impulsive and reckless” attack, defense attorney Jennifer Beck argued last week, the Associated Press reported.
The case sparked a debate in Colorado over the legal status of a fetus after Boulder County District Attorney Stan Garnett opted against murder charges against Lane, saying the coroner had found no evidence that the baby lived outside the womb, AP reported.
Colorado Republicans introduced legislation that would have made it possible for prosecutors to file murder charges against someone responsible for killing a fetus, according to the AP, but the proposal was rejected by Democratic lawmakers in the state.
Prosecutors argued that Lane was obsessed by pregnancy and had crafted a bizarre lie about being pregnant, which she promoted on social media.
“She was obsessed with pregnancy — in a bizarre way,” Garnett told jurors as he showed them photos of Lane pretending to be pregnant last week.
The prosecutor said Lane had even picked a name for her imaginary child: “James.”
Last week, Wilkins tearfully recounted the heinous attack for jurors. The attack began unexpectedly, after the two women — who had never met before — finished sorting through maternity clothes together.
“Several times I told her I had to go, and I thought she was lonely because she just kept talking over me,” Wilkins said. “I felt like I was being thoughtful, you know, and listening to her and being kind to her. But eventually I said, ‘I really have to go.’ ”
Wilkins said she was then guided by Lane to a downstairs basement to look at more clothes. When she turned to leave, she said, Lane attacked.
“She was pulling at my sweater, kind of scratched at me,” Wilkins said.
Confused, she asked Lane whether she had a spider or a bug on her shoulder. “I think I got it,” Lane allegedly replied. Yet, Wilkins said, Lane hit her again and a chaotic physical altercation ensued.
Wilkins said they wrestled as she tried to escape. Lane eventually pushed Wilkins into a bedroom and ended up on top of her, straddling her chest and pinning her to the ground, Wilkins said.
She said her attacker initially attempted to smother her with a pillow; after she managed to knock the pillow out of her attacker’s hands, Wilkins said, Lane attempted to choke her using her bare hands.
She also recalled Lane smashing a glass bottle over her head, covering her face and chest in a wet substance that mixed with her own blood.
When she eventually lost consciousness, Wilkins said, Lane’s hands were wrapped around her throat. What happened next, according to Wilkins, almost defies imagination. Wilkins awoke with a “a really big cut across my stomach.”
“I just felt the blood seeping through my pants and I could feel my intestines outside of my body,” she told the hushed courtroom.
Realizing she was too weak to escape the home or outrun her attacker, Wilkins said she locked the door, then happened to spot her cellphone, allowing her to make an emergency call.
In an audio recording of the 911 call, Wilkins told a dispatcher that her attacker stabbed her in the stomach with a knife and a broken glass as she was getting ready to leave the house. The dispatcher kept Wilkins on the phone for about six minutes, asking her to press a towel or anything else nearby on the wound until officers arrived at the scene. “Don’t go to sleep,” the dispatcher repeatedly said.
“She cut me,” Wilkins said during the call. “I’m pregnant.”
Though her memories of the hours after the attack are fuzzy, Wilkins told the courtroom that she remembered a police officer holding her hand and asking doctors to give her anesthesia at the hospital because her physical pain was too great.
On Tuesday, Wilkins held her father’s hand as the guilty verdicts were read, according to Fox affiliate KDVR.