LONGMONT, Colo. - The woman accused of attacking a pregnant woman and cutting the unborn child from her womb will not be charged with murder for the death of the baby, the Boulder County district attorney confirmed Friday.
The charges for Dynel Lane, 34, include attempted murder of the mother, multiple counts of assault on the mother and unlawful termination of a pregnancy.
Because the coroner concluded the child, who would have been named Aurora, was not alive outside the womb, it does not qualify as a person under Colorado law and therefore cannot be considered the victim of murder. Instead, state law considers the crime to be unlawful termination of a pregnancy.
Unlawful termination of a pregnancy in the first degree is punishable by up to 32 years in the Department of Corrections.
"Colorado law is absolutely unambiguous," said District Attorney Stan Garnett. "Now I understand that many people in the community -- and heaven knows I've heard from a lot of them -- would like me to have filed homicide charges. However, that is not possible under Colorado law."
His final decision on the charge was largely based on the conclusions from coroner Emma Hall's office.
"Neither the autopsy or the investigation have provided any evidence that the baby exhibited any signs of life outside of the womb, therefore the circumstance is not being considered a live birth," Hall said Friday in a written statement.
The arrest report from the Longmont Police Department said Lane's husband claimed to have seen the child taking a "gasping breath," but Garnett said the autopsy found that Aurora's lungs had never inflated.
CU law professor Aya Gruber says the charges are appropriate, for what's currently on the books.
"When you have such a heinous crime, like this and there's such violence involved, where a person is basically left for dead, it would be an oversight not to charge an attempted murder," said Gruber.
Garnett said that he met with the victim, Michelle Wilkins, several times. Most recently, he said, he met with Wilkins Friday morning before the filing of charges.
"Michelle is a wonderful person and her family is incredibly supportive," he said.
Wilkins has been released from the hospital and is in a safe place, according to her family. A GoFundMe account and Trust Fund were established to help pay for her medical bills and recovery.
If Lane is convicted on all counts, she could face a total prison sentence of more than 100 years, Garnett explained.