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LIVE BLOG: Baby cut from womb trial, Day 1

Posted: 9:10 AM, Feb 17, 2016
Updated: 2016-02-18 06:40:30Z
LIVE BLOG: Baby cut from womb trial, Day 1
LIVE BLOG: Baby cut from womb trial, Day 1
LIVE BLOG: Baby cut from womb trial, Day 1
LIVE BLOG: Baby cut from womb trial, Day 1
LIVE BLOG: Baby cut from womb trial, Day 1
LIVE BLOG: Baby cut from womb trial, Day 1

The Longmont woman who had her unborn baby cut from her womb gave an emotional recounting of what happened to her when she testified Wednesday against the woman she says attacked her.

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 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.

Because livestreaming video is not allowed, we are recounting what is happening in the courtroom with this live blog:

LIVE BLOG FROM COURT - Day 1 of Trial:

In court Wednesday, Boulder County District Attorney Stan Garnett said Lane "concocted quite an elaborate description of a fake pregnancy. A pretend pregnancy."

Garnett showed three photos of Lane pretending to be pregnant in 2014.

After talking to Lane for about an hour, Garnett said Wilkins thought, "This is is going on too long. I need to wrap this up." That's when Lane convinced Wilkins to go downstairs to look at clothes for a baby girl.

"Michelle didn't know that the defendant wasn't pregnant and that she was desperate to come up with an explanation for this fake pregnancy for [her boyfriend] David Ridley, because her relationship was falling apart," Garnett said. "And, not knowing these things, she agreed to go down into the basement."

"It was in that basement, downstairs, where all hell broke loose," Garnett stated.

Garnett showed a photo of the basement and the room where the attack allegedly occurred.

Garnett said Lane hit Wilkins over the head with a lava lamp and cut her with a piece of broken glass, then held a pillow over her face until Wilkins went unconscious.

"Michelle, surprisingly, remembers a lot of this," Garnett said.

Garnett said Lane cut the unborn baby, later named Aurora, from Wilkins' womb and took the lifeless child to a bathroom upstairs.

"As Michelle lay dying on the bed, [Lane] took the sheets off, took the mattress pad off and did two loads of laundry," Garnett continued.

Garnett showed multiple photos of the bloody crime scene, including a bloody hand print on a wall.

"This hand print is the defendant's hand print, but it's Michelle Wilkins' blood, primarily," Garnett said. 

A while later, David Ridley entered the house.
 
Garnett goes on, "The defendant walks out of the bedroom, covered in blood, shuts the door and says, 'I had a miscarriage, I had a miscarriage.' And David, shocked, says 'Where's the baby?' And [Lane] says, 'It's upstairs in the bathroom.'"
 
Ridley said he found the baby, already dead, in the bathtub and wrapped her in a towel.
 
Ridley rushed Lane and the baby to the hospital, Garnett said.
 
Lane never told anyone at the hospital that a woman was bleeding to death in the basement of her home, Garnett said.

(PHOTO: Defendant Dynel Lane listens to the prosecution's opening statement.)
 
While Lane was gone, Wilkins regained consciousness.
 
Wilkins wanted to climb out a window or run away but didn't have the strength, said Garnett.

Wilkins was on the 911 call for six minutes as emergency crews rushed to save her.

MORE |  Listen to 911 call

Officer Billy Sawyer was one of the officers who found Wilkins in the home.

(PHOTO: Defendant Dynel Lane is pictured in the blue shirt and grey blazer.)

Meanwhile, at the hospital, Garnett said Lane told doctors and police different versions of what happened. Initially Lane claimed the baby was hers and was stillborn.

"When she found out Michelle Wilkins had survived, she became especially concerned and changed her story," Garnett said."Her next story, to one of the doctors, was that Michelle had stabbed herself."

"She claimed that Michelle had attacked her, that she had fought back out of self defense and then cut Aurora out of Michelle, because she thought she'd killed Michelle," Garnett stated. "None of the forensic evidence supports any of these stories."

The defense then began their opening statement.

Defense attorney Jennifer Beck said, "What happened on March 18th was hasty, impulsive and reckless" but not "planned or processed."

(PHOTO: Defense attorney Jennifer Beck.)

Beck said Lane had no intent to kill Wilkins.

The attack was "chaotic, it was haphazard, but it was not planned," Beck said.

"She reached for whatever was nearby, a pillow, a lava lamp," Beck said. "She had no plan of what to do."

After the defense wrapped up their opening statement, the prosecution called the first witness: Beth Kemper, the Longmont 911 operator who took Wilkins' call for help after the attack.

(PHOTO: 911 Dispatcher Beth Kemper)

The prosecution played the 911 call for the court.

Kemper struggles to understand Wilkins, who sounds breathless and is crying weakly.

"She cut me," Wilkins says.

"She cut you in your stomach?" Kemper asks.

"Uh huh, I'm pregnant," Wilkins answers.

Wilkins is breathing slowly and heavily as she tells Kemper her name and location.

"You're going to stay on the phone with me, Michelle," Kemper says. "You stay with me, don't go to sleep."

Kemper tells Wilkins to press a towel to her wounds.

Kemper asks if Wilkins is alone in the house and if the attacker is armed. Wilkins says she doesn't know.

Wilkins says she can't remember the name of her attacker but says she is in the attacker's home.

"Help, help," Wilkins moans.

"Everybody's on their way, OK?" Kemper says. "They're trying to find you now."

Kemper kept Wilkins talking on the phone until emergency crews arrived.

The second witness to take the stand was Tracy Wilson, a Boulder public health nurse.

(PHOTO: Witness Tracy Wilson testifies.)

Wilson testified that she was with Wilkins as Wilkins was texting Lane, just before the attack. 

After a morning recess, Wilkins, now 27 years old, took the stand to testify.

Wilkins said she found out in September 2015 that she was pregnant. She identified the father as Dan Ascik.

Wilkins said the couple agreed they wanted to raise the child together and moved to Boulder.

Wilkins said friends and family gave the couple just about everything they needed for the baby, except a crib.

"We were prepared," Wilkins said.

Wilkins smiled briefly on the stand as the prosecutor struggled to load a map of Longmont.

Garnett then showed Wilkins photos of herself while she was still pregnant.

The defense objected to allowing the photos into evidence but was overruled.

The photos were then displayed on a screen in court.

(PHOTO: Michelle Wilkins in early 2015)

Prosecutors then showed the court a screen shot of the Craigslist ad that Lane allegedly posted and text messages between Wilkins and Lane about the ad.

Wilkins was then asked to describe her visit to Lane's house.

Wilkins said they talked for about an hour and Lane seemed "lonely."

Lane said she was two weeks overdue, Wilkins testified.

"I thought she was really petite, but I don't have that many close friends that have been pregnant," Wilkins said.

Wilkins testified that she was about to leave but Lane told her she had clothes for a baby girl that she wasn't going to need because she was expecting a boy.

"As I was going upstairs towards the door, she struck me from behind," Wilkins said.

(PHOTO: Michelle Wilkins testifies about her visit to Dynel Lane's home.)

"It's hard to describe... she hit me, and then... it was almost like pulling on my sweater and scratching at me."

Wilkins said she jerked herself away from Lane and asked what Lane was doing.

Wilkins said Lane answered with a question: "Why would you go in someone's house and do that to them?"

Wilkins said she began to think that Lane was unstable.

"I held up my hands and said 'I don't want to hurt you, I just want to leave,'" Wilkins testified.

Wilkins said Lane told her, "I don't trust you. You need to wait here while I call the cops."

That's when Lane started to push her towards the bathroom and then shoved her into the bedroom and onto the bed. She said Lane got a pillow and tried to smother her, but Wilkins tried to knock away the pillow.

Wilkins said she got out her cell phone and threatened to call the police.

Wilkins said that's when Lane lunged for the phone and began hitting her in the face.

"She broke a bottle over my head," Wilkins testified. (That bottle was actually a lava lamp.)

"I said, 'I don't know why you're doing this, I love you,'" Wilkins testified. "She said, 'If you love me, you'll let me do this.'"

"And then she stabbed [the bottle] into my neck," said Wilkins, "I just remember everything was wet and slippery, and I remember when she stabbed me. She removed it and then she continued to try to choke me."

"I was so caught up in the moment I couldn't tell what the [wetness] was, between the liquid in the bottle and the blood, I didn't know" Wilkins said. She described the bottle as looking like it was full of oil and vinegar, like the way it was separating.

"Did you feel pain?" Garnett asked.

"I did, but there was so much adrenaline,I think," Wilkins responded.

"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. Her voice quavered with emotion.

"I remember she got up, she was straddling me and she went farther up and actually pinned me with her knees," said Wilkins. "She pinned down my arms with her legs... She bore down with her whole weight on the heel of her hand over my wind pipe. I just remember everything going black."

Garnett asked Wilkins what happened when she woke up.

"My first instinct was to get up but I felt this really intense pain in my stomach... I looked down and you know... I just saw this really big cut across my stomach," Wilkins said.

"I started thinking, 'Maybe she's still in the house. I can't outrun her if I'm in so much pain... I started putting together an escape plan," Wilkins said. "I stood up and my feet couldn't support me so I just fell forward."

Wilkins said she stumbled back to the bed to get her phone to call 911.

"I don't really remember much of the conversation [with the dispatcher]," Wilkins said. "They kept saying help was coming, that they were on their way."

Wilkins said she remembers seeing Officer Sawyer come through the door and he held her hand while checking her injuries.

Wilkins said they loaded her onto the stretcher and she remembers being rolled into the hospital.

"I just remember someone, you know, touching my wounds and it was so painful I just asked them to put me under... they said something along the lines of 'We're going to take care of you.'"

Wilkins said she didn't wake up until the next morning.

"When did you realize you were no longer pregnant with Aurora?" Garnett asked.

After a long pause, Wilkins answered, "It was not until the next day, in the hospital, when I woke up."

"Someone told you what happened to Aurora?" Garnett questioned.

"I think I realized. But I still asked Dan when we were in the hospital," Wilkins said.

Wilkins testified that it was Aurora's father who later told her their baby girl didn't make it.

Garnett then showed Wilkins the sweater she was wearing the day of the attack.

Garnett finished questioning Wilkins and defense attorney Kathryn Herold began cross examination.

Herold asked Wilkins if she would describe her as a talkative person. Wilkins said, yes, she would say she was an extrovert. She then asked Wilkins if the conversation that took place in the upstairs part of the house seemed normal. Wilkins responded that yes, the conversation was good and everything seemed fine until Wilkins started to get up and leave and Lane steered her toward the basement. 

Wilkins was excused but will be in the courtroom for the remainder of the trial.

Longmont Police Officer Billy Sawyer was then called to testify.

Officer Sawyer said he was working the swing shift on patrol when dispatch told him that a woman who was 7-months pregnant reported that she was stabbed. He said when he got to the house, he saw blood drops that went upstairs and downstairs.

 

Sawyer said after he went down to the lower floor, and opened the bedroom door and saw Wilkins laying on the bed.

"She was covered from head to toe in blood. And the entire room was also, blood everywhere," Sawyer said. He confirmed that she had been stabbed in her stomach and in her neck.

"For some of the time, I was holding her hand and other times, I was trying to get her help me put pressure on her wound," Sawyer said, but admitted she wasn't strong enough to do that. As she was being loaded into the ambulance, Sawyer asked Wilkins if he could look through her phone. He said when he did so, he saw text messages from the suspect. 

The court took a lunch break and Sawyer returned with more testimony about going through the crime scene with other investigators. The two bedrooms in the lower part of the house belonged to Lane's two daughters, Sawyer said. As jurors saw pictures of the bloody bedroom, Sawyer described what he saw and the evidence that was left at the crime scene. 

Dr. Leslie Leann Armstrong, a doctor in the emergency room at Longmont United Hospital, was then called to the stand.

Anderson said she pronounced the baby dead at 2:27 p.m. on March 18.