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Alleged Assailant Cuts Baby from Womb, Can’t be Charged with Homicide

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Mark Stricherz - published on 03/20/15

In 12 states, assailants are rarely charged with murder

A woman who allegedly stabbed the abdomen of a pregnant woman and removed the child from the womb is unlikely to be prosecuted for homicide, the Associated Pres reports.

Dynel Lane put baby clothes for sale online. Then she attacked a pregnant woman who responded to the ad, the news agency said. Although the 26-year-old alleged victim survived, the unborn child did not. The fetus’ death highlights the shaky legal protection for unborn children from attackers, AP noted:

In the past two years, Colorado twice rejected efforts to make the death of a fetus a homicide.

The Democratic-led Legislature voted down a bill in 2013, and 65 percent of voters rejected a ballot measure last year that would have granted legal rights to unborn fetuses, the third rejection of a "personhood measure."That leaves the state as one of 12 without a law allowing homicide charges in the violent deaths of fetuses — and the fate of Dynel Lane up in the air.

Authorities say Lane lured a woman who was nearly eight months pregnant to her home this week by advertising baby clothes on Craigslist.

Lane is accused of stabbing the stranger in the belly and removing the fetus.

Stan Garnett, the district attorney of liberal Boulder County, said during a news conference Thursday that Colorado law makes it challenging to file homicide charges when fetuses are killed.

"Under Colorado law, essentially no murder charges can be brought if the child did not live outside of the mother," Garnett said.

The legal complexity seems unnecessary to some.

"It’s literally absurd," said Keith Mason, the president of Personhood USA, the anti-abortion group that spearheaded the push for Colorado’s fetal homicide laws.

The abortion debate has hung over the increasing number of states that have made killing a fetus a homicide.

Abortion opponents have promoted the laws, which have been adopted by 38 states and the federal government to the consternation of many abortion-rights supporters.

The alleged assailant, Lane, had a troubled history, the news agency reported.  Lane and her former husband lost a 19-month-old boy in a drowning accident in 2002.

Her then-husband wasn’t home at the time, the Pueblo Chieftain newspaper reported.
She and their two daughters, then 5 and 3, searched for the boy until they found him in a fish pond.

He had been playing a game with his sisters while their mother was busy in another part of the house, the newspaper said.

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