BOULDER, Colo. (CBS4) – Testimony began Wednesday in the trial of the People vs. Dynel Lane, accused of attacking a pregnant Longmont woman in March and cutting her unborn baby from her body.
Michelle Wilkins, who says she was attacked while responding to an online ad for baby clothes, took the stand, describing in detail what led up to the attack and telling the jury she fought to survive.
Lane, who has pleaded not guilty to charges of attempted murder, felony assault and the unlawful termination of a pregnancy, sat motionless during most of the testimony. She remains in custody on a $2 million bond. In court she was dressed in a gray suit and wore eyeglasses. Judge Maria E. Berkenkotter is presiding over the case. The jury consists of 10 women and 6 men, which includes four designated alternates.
On March 18, 2015, prosecutors allege Lane, 35, carried out a scheme to cover up her own fake pregnancy, which her then partner, David Ridley, had grown suspicious of.
“She was desperate to come up with an explanation for her fake pregnancy because the relationship was falling apart,” District Attorney Stan Garnett told the jury in his opening statement.
Garnett said witness testimony will prove that after attacking Wilkins, Lane tried to clean up the crime scene.
“These facts are bloody, but these are the facts of the case,” Garnett said.
Defense attorney Jennifer Beck did not deny Lane’s involvement in the attack, appearing rather to argue that what Lane did does not rise to the level of attempted first-degree murder. Beck said the attack was not deliberate, planned or processed.
“You’ll hear that that this was hasty, impulsive, and reckless,” Beck said. “But she didn’t plan for this to happen.”
The day’s most compelling testimony came from Wilkins herself, who remained composed and calm during most of her time on the witness stand. At times she wiped away tears with a tissue and struggled not to break down.
Wilkins said she was inside Lane’s home, having already looked at baby clothes she’d gone there to get, when she started to feel as though it were time to leave. Their conversation had dragged on, Wilkins told jurors, but she didn’t want to be impolite, so she agreed to look at more clothes Lane said were stored in her basement. After going downstairs, Wilkins says Lane’s demeanor changed. She says Lane slapped her across her back. At first Wilkins thought maybe Lane had been swatting at a spider on her back. Then the attack escalated. Wilkins described Lane breaking a lava lamp over her head and using the pieces to strike her.
“She said, ‘If you love me, you’ll let me do this,’ and then she stabbed it into my neck,” Wilkins said.
Wilkins described being pushed onto a bed by Lane, beaten and choked.
“She pinned down my arms with her legs and she was trying so hard to choke me and put the heel of her hand on my windpipe and remember everything going black,” Wilkins said, adding, “I remember thinking of Aurora and feeling like I really; I just thought of her, and I wanted to survive also for her so I fought back harder.”
Wilkins says she remembers regaining consciousness and trying to stand, but being unable to. She found her phone and dialed 911, relaying Lane’s address, where she was, to the dispatcher.
An audio recording of the call drew tears from members of her family and sighs from people as it was played inside the courtroom. On the recording Wilkins is heard telling the dispatcher, ‘I’m pregnant,’ ‘I’m afraid,’ and ‘she cut me.’
After breaking for lunch testimony resumed from a Longmont police officer who was the first to reach Wilkins after the incident, and a doctor who described attending to both women as they entered Longmont United Hospital.
Officer Billy Sawyer described coming in to a blood-filled scene, discovering a knife on the floor and broken bottle beside the bed on which he found Wilkins. The prosecution showed images of a blood-soaked mattress and walls.
Dr. Leslie Armstrong attended to Lane that afternoon when she arrived at the hospital with then partner David Ridley. She testified they came in with Wilkins’ baby, not alive, wrapped in blankets, and that Lane was “distraught.”
“She was yelling, ‘Save my baby, save my baby,’” Dr. Armstrong said.
According to Armstrong, Lane resisted an examination.
“She said, ‘Don’t take care of me, just take care of him, I don’t matter anymore,’” Armstrong testified.
The first day of testimony wrapped up with the prosecution calling Ridley to the stand, who spoke about his concern over Lane’s refusal to attend prenatal doctor visits with him. Ridley says he returned home on the afternoon of March 18 thinking he and Lane would be going to a doctor visit together, and then finding her shirtless, covered in blood, and saying she’d suffered a miscarriage.
So far Lane’s defense attorneys have chosen not to cross examine most of the prosecution’s witnesses. The trial resumes at 9 a.m. on Thursday.