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No murder charge in case of baby cut from womb, lawmaker calls death ‘act of God’

Posted at 9:53 AM, Mar 27, 2015
and last updated 2015-03-27 09:53:23-04

BOULDER COUNTY, Colo. -- A former nurse's aide will not face murder charges for allegedly cutting and removing an unborn baby from the mother's womb, Boulder County, Colorado, prosecutor Stanley Garnett said Thursday. The mother, Michelle Wilkins, answered a Craigslist ad for baby clothes on March 18. When she arrived at the purported seller's home in Longmont, she was attacked, beaten, cut open and her fetus was removed. The baby did not survive.

Wilkins was treated at a hospital and later released. The alleged attacker, Dynel Lane, 34, is being held on a $2 million bond.

Viable life

After the attack, prosecutors said it may be hard to muster a murder charge. Colorado state law does not recognize a fetus as a person, unless it is capable of surviving for a period of time outside the womb, a prosecutor said then.

But the extent of the period that the fetus must survive in order to be defined as a baby is not legally clear.

Lane's husband, David Ridley, told police he found the baby on the day of the attack in a bathtub taking a breath.

Lawmaker calls attack "act of God"

A Republican lawmaker from Colorado is facing rising outrage after he refused to apologize for comments on his evangelical YouTube program attributing the heinous death of an unborn child, cut out of a pregnant woman’s stomach, to an act of God.

“I believe the Bible and I quoted the Bible and I applied it to current events,” Rep. Gordon Klingenschmitt said Thursday afternoon during an interview with KDVR. “If other people are offended by the Bible, that’s okay, they don’t have to agree with me or come to my church or watch my TV show. It’s a free country.”

Earlier this week, Klingenschmitt quoted scripture in order to argue that the crime Dynel Lane allegedly committed against Michelle Wilkins was an ‘act of God’ in retribution for America allowing women to have abortions.

“This is the curse of God upon America for our sin of not protecting innocent children in the womb,” Klingenschmitt said. “And part of that curse for our rebellion against God as a nation is that our women are ripped open.”

Democrats as well as Klingenschmitt's fellow Republicans spoke out against the lawmaker's comments.

“I think that this statement is reprehensible and disrespectful,” said Colorado House Speaker Dickey Lee Hullinghorst, D-Gunbarrel.

“When I saw what he said about the woman being attacked, I was appalled,” Assistant Minority Leader Polly Lawrence, R-Littleton said. “He does not speak for the Republican caucus. In fact, we’ve counseled him numerous times, as we counsel everybody, that what you say outside of this building because you’re an elected public official sometimes spills over into your official capacity.”

Victim's strength

While the attack on Wilkins has shocked her community for its brutality, many have also remarked on the 26-year-old's strength.

Bleeding and stunned in a stranger's basement, Wilkins managed to lock herself in a room to prevent any further violence, called 911 and did what she could to stem the bleeding.

Police officer Billy Sawyer, who responded to the call, said he and his partner weren't prepared for the grisly scene.

"She was covered in blood," Sawyer told CNN's Erin Burnett. Wilkins reached out for his hands for comfort. He held them and listened to her. "She did not know she was no longer with her child," he said.

Her strength and willpower had impressed him, as she directed him by phone to her location while she bled so heavily. "She is the only reason why she's alive right now," Sawyer said.

Wilkins' family started a GoFundMe page to raise money for her care. A note on the page said that she's "in a safe location" and "surrounded by family and friends."

More than $73,000 of the $75,000 goal have been raised so far.