The woman who lured a pregnant mother, then attacked her and cut the baby from her womb, was sentenced to 100 years in prison with mandatory periods of parole Friday afternoon.
One of the most poignant moments during the sentence hearing came during the victim impact statements, when Michelle Wilkins, whose unborn child was cut off from her womb after responding to a Craigslist ad for maternity clothes, took the stand and addressed Dynel Lane, the convicted criminal in the case.
"You knowingly left me to die, multiple times. The only tears that you shed during the trial were those of self-pity, to the sound of your own voice, as your lies were slowly revealed; and yet, even now, you cannot come clean about what actually occurred," said Wilkins. "What is done cannot be undone, but I fervently hope that you use the rest of time on this Earth with meditation and prayer to help you come to terms with what you have done... as your only chance for healing the hurt that you have caused."
Wilkins said Lane committed atrocities that sent out a ripple of pain to many other people.
“Against Aurora’s father and all of her grandparents, against law enforcement and first responders, who cannot unsee the trauma that you created,” she said. “And against your partner and daughters, who surely have guilt, shame and trauma of their own to wrestle with for the rest of their lives because of you.”
In February, Lane was found guilty of attempted first-degree murder, two counts of first-degree assault, two counts of second-degree assault and unlawful termination of a pregnancy.
Prosecutors wanted Lane sentenced to 126 years in prison.
“The People suggest that the court should fashion a sentence that is appropriate for a crime “spree” rather than one criminal act and the sentences should be imposed consecutively to reflect the complexity of the case and the cruel manner in which the crimes were committed,” the District Attorney's Office stated in court documents obtained by Denver7.
“Every one of the eight separate felonies was violent and carried out by the Defendant without mercy or concern for the victims,” prosecutors stated in the sentencing memorandum dated Wednesday.
Prosecutors said Lane lured Wilkins to her home with a Craigslist ad for maternity clothes. Wilkins was seven months pregnant 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.
Lane wasn't charged with murder in the death of the baby. Colorado lawmakers have rejected proposals to make the violent death of a fetus a homicide for fear such a law would be used to restrict abortions.
Lane admitted cutting the unborn baby out of Michelle Wilkins' womb, but told police Wilkins attacked her and she fought back in self-defense. Lane said she was afraid she had killed Wilkins during the struggle and removed the baby in an attempt to save it.
“It is clear that the Defendant takes no accountability for what she has done and has no remorse for her actions; her main concerns are complaints about the food or other minutiae in jail,” prosecutors stated in the sentencing memorandum.
Victim’s family speak at hearing
During the sentencing hearing, Mark Wilkins, Michelle’s dad, said “Michelle is the strongest person I know and that’s a good thing. Who else but my brave and resilient daughter could have withstood and then overcome the savagery inflicted up her that terrible afternoon.”
Michelle’s mom, Wendy Wilkins, said the family is still trying to come to grips with the horrific, savage act.
“As a mother, I am so proud of our daughter Michelle. She not only gathered herself up that fateful day in March, when she lay open and dying, but every day after that, she has shown us what true grace and strength look like.”
Michelle’s sister, Sara Wilkins, said "there is no punishment suitable for the crime, for the deliberate and malicious actions that were taken against my sister…her beautiful baby… and our family.”
Judge issues decision
Before announcing the sentence, Judge Maria Berkenkotter said there were many impacts of the unlawful termination of Michelle’s pregnancy.
“They will never get to see her crawl or walk or talk or sing,” the judge said, ”or perhaps even hurl herself onto the floor of the grocery store. That’s because Ms. Lane took that from them."
“They will never get to go to her first day of Kindergarten, or read to her before bedtime or help her with Science Fair projects,” the judge added. “That’s because Ms. Lane took that from them.”
“They won’t go to her Elementary School performances or hang her artwork on the refrigerator or go to her continuation ceremony at the end of 5th grade. They won’t be able to watch her as she navigates Middle School or starts High School. They won’t to watch as she decides who she is and what she wants to do with her life."
Judge Berkenkotter said there was a final aggravating factor she had to consider.
“There’s always been a question of whether Ms. Lane tried to kill Michelle and take Aurora because she wanted a baby, or merely because she wanted proof that she had been pregnant,” the judge said. “Those are two different things. They are profoundly disturbing things, because the first motive requires a baby that lives, the second does not.”
- Count One – 48 years plus 5 years mandatory parole
- Count Eight (unlawful termination) – 32 years plus 5 years parole (consecutive)
- Count Four – 10 years plus 5 years mandatory parole (consecutive)
- Count Five – 10 years plus 5 years mandatory parole (consecutive)
- Count Six – 5 years plus 3 years mandatory parole (concurrent)
Total: 100 years in the Department of Correction
After Lane's sentencing, Wilkins was allowed to answer a number of questions outside the courtroom. Stan Garnett, 20th Judicial District for Boulder County, told media they were very pleased with the sentence that was imposed, saying, it "respects what happened in the case and was justice."
"I felt acknowledged because Judge Berkenkotter was listening to everything that we were saying. In this hard process, it's hard to be acknowledged because, obviously Dynel isn't... in any outward sense, taking any responsibility and there is no accountability there, except for the judicial process. So in that sense that it makes me feel heard and acknowledged, in that sense, it feels like justice was served," said Wilkins.
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