Baby cut from womb: No verdict Monday

Posted at 7:26 AM, Feb 22, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-23 08:22:11-05

Jurors deliberating in the case against the woman accused of attacking a pregnant Longmont woman and cutting the unborn baby from her womb went home Monday without reaching a verdict.

The group deliberated for about six hours Monday before leaving for the night. They'll return at 9 a.m. on Tuesday.

The prosecution and the defense gave their closing arguments Monday morning after Boulder District Judge Maria Berkenkotter read instructions to the jury.

"You must not be motivated by sympathy, bias or prejudice in reaching your decision... In making your decision, you must not consider punishment at all."

Lane is charged with attempted first-degree murder, two counts of first degree assault, two counts of second degree assault and unlawful termination of a pregnancy.

The prosecution has the burden of proving each charge beyond reasonable doubt.

"On March 18 of 2015... Dynel Lane was desperate. For the year beforehand, she had been deceiving her friends, deceiving her family into thinking that she was pregnant. She was obsessed with this pregnancy," Prosecutor Catrina Weigel said Monday.

"On March 18 of 2015 she had to come up with a baby. She had been given an ultimatum and her time was running out," Weigel continued. 

In regards to the attempted murder charge, the prosecution said Lane's decision to act was not hasty or impulsive, which is what Lane's attorneys have argued.

The prosecution then described the attack on Michelle Wilkins.

"[Wilkins] had lost over half of the blood from her body. You can't take a baby from somebody, you can't steal their baby from them, rip it out of their abdomen, without trying to kill that person," Weigel stated.

"We know what this defendant was doing and what her intent was when she left Michelle Wilkins there to die," Weigel said. "And if Michelle Wilkins hadn't regained consciousness and been able to call 911, that's what would have happened. She would have laid on that bed and died."

"The fact in this case are what they are. They're obvious," Weigel stated.

"She found a picture of an ultrasound on the Internet and passed it off to David Ridley as being an ultrasound picture of his son. She said she was having a boy and she decided to name it James... she even had a baby shower with her family in the fall of 2013."

"Her due date is originally supposed to be in November of 2014. But November comes and goes, no baby... and David Ridley is getting suspicious," Weigel says.

"In January of 2015 'I've already had the baby. Things are wonderful. He's a great baby,'" Weigel continues.

"Mid-February of 2015 is when David Ridley starts to put on that ultimatum. 'Honey, we gotta go to the doctor. I need to see some proof, I need to see some evidence of this baby. It's been going on way too long...If you don't prove to me, or explain what's going on, you and your girls are out of the house.' And we know that she wasn't working at the time," states Weigel.

The prosecution described the attack as multiple separate actions committed with multiple different weapons. Weigel then described Lane's actions in the hour after the attack and read "casual, cavalier" text messages between Lane and Ridley.

Weigel again showed photos of the blood-soaked mattress in the basement bedroom at Lane's home. She also showed jurors photos of the cuts on Lane's hands after Wilkins was attacked.

Prosecutors then played part of the recorded interview between Lane and detectives.

At one point, Lane claimed she didn't know there was an injured woman in her home.

Eventually, Lane told detectives that Wilkins attacked her and she fought back in self defense.

Lane admitted during the police interview that she cut the unborn baby from Wilkins' womb.

After the prosecution wrapped up their closing arguments, the defense took over.

"What Miss Lane did on March 18 was hasty, impulsive and reckless, but what she did was not because of deliberation," the defense claimed.

The defense said that Lane claiming she was going to have a baby boy and then attacking a woman who was pregnant with a baby girl proves that she acted without planning.

"If you're going through all that trouble, don't you think if it's your intent to cut someones's baby out, that you're going to take some time to find a woman pregnant with a baby boy?" the defense asked. "Logic tells you, at least, to do that."

"The prosecution's who theory has been that Ms. Lane put this ad on Craigslist for the sole purpose to lure some woman to her house to cut her baby out," the defense continued. "Why would you put something on Craigslist? Put your own phone number that's attached to you, if your whole intent is to kill someone to cut their baby out?"

The defense argued that Lane initially hit Wilkins with her hands and not a weapon, further proving she did not plan to kill Wilkins.

"Really? You're intent is to kill this woman. You're going to cut her baby out, and that's what you do?" the defense asked.

Lane's attorney said the jury should convict Lane of attempted manslaughter, not attempted murder.

Boulder County District Attorney Stan Garnett told jurors to use common sense in reaching a verdict.

"Actions speak louder than words," Garnett said. 

He said the defendant used two knives.  The first one was too long.

Garnett said Lane attacked Wilkins with her fists, a bottle, stabbed her, bludgeoned her and choked her.

"After the defendant had done those things, taking 10 - 15 minutes, she takes this knife and cuts the victim, cuts Michelle Wilkins four times, precisely, carefully, to take her baby out," he said. "That ladies and gentlemen is the very definition of intentional, after deliberation behavior.  It's not some kind of thoughtless act.  This is intentional behavior, and actions speak louder than words.

Garnett told jurors that Lane led a secret, desperate life and that while she was at the hospital, trying to come up with the "lastest" version of what happened, she was deleting texts off her cell phone. 

He asked for a verdict of guilty on each count.

During deliberations Monday afternoon, the jury had questions for the judge twice.

However, the microphone was muted in court, so we don't know what the jurors asked.

Previous coverage:

Dynel Lane is a former nurse's aide accused of luring a pregnant woman to her home with a Craigslist ad for maternity clothes.

Michelle Wilkins was seven months pregnant with a baby she later named Aurora when she saw the ad and went to Lane's house on March 18, 2015.

The district attorney says Lane hit Wilkins over the head with a lava lamp and stabbed Wilkins in the neck with the broken glass.

Lane then cut Wilkins' abdomen, took the unborn baby and left Wilkins for dead, prosecutors say.

The baby, later named Aurora, never survived outside the womb, investigators determined.

On the first day of the trial, Wilkins testified and described the excruciating horror she experienced.

"After she broke the bottle over my head and stabbed me and she was trying to choke me... I remember thinking of Aurora and feeling like... I just thought of her and I wanted to survive... for her. So I fought back harder," Wilkins said. 

MORE | BLOG FROM COURT - Day 1 of Dynel Lane trial

Thursday's testimony focused on the doctors at Longmont United Hospital, and highlight how the suspect and the victim were treated in the same hospital at the same time, both without knowing it.

"[Lane] told me that she was at home and a pregnant woman had come to her house to purchase some baby clothes. And that while she was there, Michelle had, for some reason, attacked Dynel with a knife," Dr. Brian Nelson, OBGYN testified.

Lane also said Wilkins had started stabbing herself, Dr. Nelson said.

"Dynel was concerned about the welfare of the baby," Nelson testified. "Dynel felt she had to save the baby's life and therefore cut the baby out of [Wilkins]."

Nelson described also treated Wilkins and described her injuries.

"There was a large laceration across her abdomen," Nelson said. "Her small intestines were out of her abdomen and she was kind of holding them in her hands."

MORE | BLOG FROM COURT - Day 2 of Dynel Lane trial

On the third day of the the trial, Lane's taped interview with detectives was played for jurors.

Lane told detectives she and Wilkins were looking at baby clothes in the basement when Wilkins suddenly attacked her.

"Before I knew it, she had, I think it was a knife that I had opened my box with, and it was sitting on the counter... she came at me and I just kind of reacted. We ended up in my daughter's room and she kept trying to hit me. I asked her, 'What are you doing?' I'm like, 'Stop!' I didn't have my phone with me so I felt completely... I don't even know after that. And then, I was just defending myself," Lane told police.

"I strangled her because she wouldn't stop," Lane said, crying.

"What were you thinking about with the baby?" the detective asked.

"I thought I killed her and I didn't want the baby to die, too," Lane continued. "I had the knife that she had. And I tried to get the baby out."

MORE | BLOG FROM COURT - Day 3 of Dynel Lane trial