Thursday night, Boulder County District Attorney Stan Garnett informed Colorado news that he will not be charging Dynel Lane with murder.
Days ago, Lane committed a horrific crime against young mother, Michelle Wilkins, by stabbing her nearly to death and cutting her 7-month-old preborn baby out of her womb. She then kidnapped the baby.
Americans have been horrified by the sadistic nature of Lane’s crime. Wilkins survived and was recently released from the hospital into the care of her family. A long recovery process awaits her. Her daughter, whom she named Aurora, did not survive the crime.
Despite the claim of Lane’s husband that he heard the baby’s “gasping breath” while she was alive, and the information provided by hospital staff that the baby had reached a viable age, Garnett has refused to bring a murder charge. On March 27, Garnett announced that “upon further discussion with [Lane’s husband] it appears the baby was not breathing but rather had her mouth open.”
Dr. Clyde Wright, a neonatologist from Children’s Hospital Colorado and University of Colorado Hospital, said Wilkins’ baby would have had an excellent – and almost certain – chance of survival if she had been born at a hospital.
“I think it’s safe to say for any indication, if a mom comes in at 34 weeks we are very confident with the prognosis of that baby,” Wright said. “It would be shocking to have a routine 34-week baby not survive.”
Wright noted that a 34-week-old fetus would likely survive even if delivered in a developing country, where less medical technology is available than in the U.S.
In addition, initial autopsies do not necessarily reveal if a baby had a heartbeat outside the womb or if the baby attempted to breathe but was only able to gasp (both of which should be counted as living, especially when the actions of the offender are what cause the baby to have no help in breathing and continuing to live.)
Colorado is one of the only remaining states in the nation without a real fetal homicide law. Fetal homicide laws typically allow a charge of murder against a person who ends the life of a preborn baby, rather than through a voluntary abortion. These laws are vastly popular with the American public.
However, because of the vigorous efforts of Planned Parenthood and pro-abortion politicians in Colorado, the state has failed to pass such a law. ABC News reports:
In the past two years, Colorado twice rejected efforts to make the death of a fetus a homicide under state law. The Democratic-led legislature voted down a bill to do that in 2013 and last year 65 percent of voters rejected a ballot measure that would have granted legal rights to unborn fetuses…
Colorado does have a law that could allow Garnett to charge Lane with the unlawful termination of a pregnancy. Because the law is focused only on the rights of the mother to her own child – while refusing to recognize the humanity of the preborn child herself – the felony charge (which Garnett has now brought against Lane) carries with it a sentence of 10-32 years. A first degree murder charge, on the other hand, comes with a life sentence or the death penalty.
Lane was originally arrested on a charge of child abuse resulting in death, which begs the question of how Baby Aurora could be considered child enough for a possible child abuse charge, but not child enough for a homicide charge.
Garnett himself publicly supported the Democrats’ legislation to classify the killing of a preborn child as a minor felony instead of a homicide.
In addition, Garnett has proudly advertised endorsements garnered from NARAL and Planned Parenthood, both pro-abortion groups that oppose recognizing preborn children as human beings. Garnett specifically cited “the important work” Planned Parenthood does – work that includes opposing legislation that would have allowed for a murder charge in the Lane case. He also proclaimed that Planned Parenthood expressed “faith in my continued advocacy for their organization.”
Garnett himself admitted that if Baby Aurora had lived outside the womb, murder charges could be a possibility. Others say that the law would require the act that killed the baby to have been performed outside the womb. (One would imagine this would not be difficult to prove, as the time that passed between the baby being cut out of the womb and her being brought to the hospital almost certainly led to her death.)
Moreover, it is clear that Garnett could have charged Lane with murder if he wished to. If he believed Colorado law was unjust and unclear, he could have taken a big step in this case to remedy it. He could have helped the courts answer his own uncertainty:
The definition of “lived as a child” is difficult, too, and whether that means one breath or one hour, Garnett said.
“The Supreme Court and the court of appeals will get to tell us that eventually. The law is not, as in many areas, terribly clear in terms of that,” Garnett said.
Even beyond “breath,” should “live as a child” mean gasping for air, a heartbeat, or other signs of life such as those that the Born Alive Infant Protection Act recognizes? Garnett could have made an argument for this and let the courts clarify.
Scott Robinson, a legal expert for 9News explains a charge that Garnett could have brought against Lane:
“If I were the prosecutor I would be very tempted to file an extreme indifference first degree murder charge,” Robinson said.
“After all, this is intentional conduct. We’ve never had a case in which a child was ripped untimely from the mother’s womb and then died, and this may be the case that sets the precedent,” Robinson added.
Instead of pursuing justice and helping to clarify the law in Colorado, Garnett has chosen to continue his advocacy for Planned Parenthood, even in these unimaginable circumstances. As attorney Gualberto Garcia Jones writes:
“If the law now treats the seven-month unborn child of Michelle Wilkins as nothing more than a miscarried pregnancy, you can thank those who buy into the abortion mentality that an unborn child is somehow sub-human.”
UPDATE: On the morning of March 27, Boulder County Coroner Emma Hall released a statement:
At this time 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.
However, more testing and studies are yet to be completed.
UPDATE: March 27, 2:58 PM: The Longmont Times-Call has reported the charges filed against Dynel Lane. They include unlawful termination of pregnancy, “first-degree attempted murder — a Class 2 felony — plus two crime-of-violence sentence enhancers,” and two counts each of first-degree assault and second-degree assault.