Woman Gets 100 Years For Cutting Baby From Stranger's Womb
A Colorado woman convicted of cutting a baby from a stranger’s womb was sentenced to a century behind bars for the heinous crime that left a child dead and a mother’s life shattered.
Judge Maria Berkenkotter sentenced Dynel Lane, 36, to 100 years in prison as well as the maximum penalties for attempted murder and unlawful termination of a pregnancy on Friday.
Berkenkotter said the sentence, which was the harshest possible, was justified by the brutality of the March 2015 attack that she described as a cesarean with a kitchen knife.
Lane had lured expectant mom Michelle Wilkins, 27, to her Longmont home with a Craigslist ad for maternity clothes. After Wilkins arrived, the pair spoke for about an hour before Lane beat her with a lamp, stabbed her in the throat, slashed her stomach open and choked her into unconsciousness.
Wilkins woke in the hospital after the vicious attack to discover her baby girl, who she named Aurora, did not survive.
Nurses brought her the child’s body after she was given the news.
“I held her, I sang to her, I read to her and it was really bittersweet,” Wilkins told INSIDE EDITION, saying she sang “the same song my mother sang to me. ‘You Are My Sunshine.’”
Wilkins placed a large photograph of Aurora, who appeared to be sleeping on an easel next to the witness stand as she addressed Berkenkotter Friday, asking the judge to impose the harshest sentence possible, the Associated Press reported.
Berkenkotter sentenced Lane to 48 years for attempted murder and 32 years for unlawful termination of a pregnancy. The remainder of her sentence was for assault charges in the attack.
She was given credit for the more than a year she has served since her arrest.
“Judge Berkenkotter was clearly listening to everything that we were saying,” Wilkins told reporters after the sentencing, saying she felt justice had been served.
Lane reportedly murmured “no” when Berkenkotter asked her if she wanted to speak.
The judge said the victim as well as her family and the community needed Lane to express remorse, but the woman reportedly showed no emotion and sat straight as Wilkins directed her words toward her.
Lane later cried during the hearing when a letter from one of her two daughters expressing love was read, the AP wrote.
Kathryn Herold, the public defender representing Lane, told the judge Friday she would appeal and that Lane had the right not to speak.
Berkenkotter acknowledged that was Lane’s constitutional right, but said that in weighing her sentence, she had to take into account that “people are hungry to hear from you, Miss Lane. Hungry, desperate to hear you express genuine remorse from the bottom of your heart.”
Lane also did not speak in her defense during the trial, which ended in February.
It took jurors six hours to hand down a sentence after they heard that Lane had went to elaborate lengths to fake a pregnancy before she attacked Wilkins.
Lane’s attorneys argued that there was no evidence that the attack was a calculated murder attempt and urged jurors to convict her of the lesser charge of attempted manslaughter.
Jurors did not hear that in 2002, Lane’s 19-month-old son drowned in what investigators ruled an accident.
Relatives who spoke on Lane’s behalf before the sentencing Friday said her remorse over losing her son may have led her to take an action they could not understand or explain.
Lane’s mother apologized in court to Wilkins and her family, as did her father in a letter his wife read, the AP reported.
Lane had posted online photos of herself with a distended belly and sent the man she said was the father of her child ultrasound images downloaded from the Internet.
For more than a year before the attack, Lane claimed to be expecting a boy that was to be named James, her live-in boyfriend David Ridley testified at trial.
Friends even threw Lane a baby shower.
Ridley said he had grown suspicious by the time Lane lured Wilkins to her Longmont home.
He came home early from work that day to meet Lane for a doctor’s appointment and said he found the fetus in a bathtub.
He drove the child and Lane to a hospital, where she begged staff to save her baby.
Lane said nothing to Ridley about Wilkins, who was unconscious at the home. Wilkins regained consciousness and called police herself.
Prosecutors said they were unable to charge Lane with murdering Wilkins’ unborn girl because a coroner found no evidence the fetus lived outside the womb.