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Sat Jul 23 11:14:32 SAST 2016

Colorado woman convicted of cutting foetus from stranger's womb

REUTERS | 24 February, 2016 09:05
Prosecutors said Lane faked a pregnancy and then, after her husband became suspicious about whether she in fact was carrying a child, she took out an advertisement on the website Craigslist to lure a pregnant woman with an offer of maternity clothes. File photo
Image by: ALESSANDRO BIANCHI / REUTERS

A Colorado jury convicted a woman of attempted murder and assault for stabbing a pregnant stranger and cutting her foetus from her womb, after luring the victim to her home with an online advertisement for free maternity clothes.

Dynel Catrece Lane, 35, was also found guilty in a Boulder courtroom of a charge of unlawfully terminating a pregnancy stemming from the March 2015 attack on Michelle Wilkins, 27.

Wilkins, who was seven months pregnant, survived the stabbing at Lane's home in Longmont, 30 miles (56 km) north of Denver, but Wilkins' unborn baby girl died.

The case renewed discussion of whether termination of a pregnancy can ever be considered murder. Prosecutors filed a charge of unlawful termination of a pregnancy, and not murder, against Lane after the Boulder County Coroner ruled the unborn child was a foetus rather than a baby because it had not taken a breath outside the womb.

Lane showed little emotion in court on Tuesday, after the jury deliberated for seven hours, starting on Monday.

Wilkins also was present for the verdict and dabbed at her eyes with a tissue as it was read.

"I do hope she finds the time to reflect on what she did," Wilkins told reporters outside court.

Prosecutors said Lane faked a pregnancy and then, after her husband became suspicious about whether she in fact was carrying a child, she took out an advertisement on the website Craigslist to lure a pregnant woman with an offer of maternity clothes.

Wilkins testified that when she went to Lane's home, responding to the advertisement, the older woman bludgeoned, stabbed and choked her until she passed out.

Lane's weapons included a lava lamp that she used to bash Wilkins on the head and two kitchen knives that she cut the foetus from the victim's womb, according to police and testimony in the trial last week.

When her husband returned home, Lane told him that she suffered a miscarriage and he rushed her to a hospital along with the deceased foetus, police said. Wilkins, who was slipping in and out of consciousness, called 911 from the basement of the home where police later found her, clinging to life.

Boulder County District Court Judge Maria Berkenkotter set sentencing for April 29. Boulder County District Attorney Stan Garnett said prosecutors have not determined the prison sentence they will seek but it could amount to more than 100 years.

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