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Judge Blocks Testimony About Unborn Baby In Mother-To-Be Stabbing Trial

By Lauren DiSpirito

BOULDER, Colo. (CBS4) - Jurors in the trial of a Longmont woman charged with cutting an unborn baby from another woman's womb will not hear testimony about that death.

Court wrapped up Thursday for a lunch recess with a win for Dynel Lane's defense.

Her attorney, Jennifer Beck, successfully argued to block testimony regarding an autopsy performed on victim Michelle Wilkins' baby, who she had planned to name Aurora.

Michelle Wilkins (3)
Michelle Wilkins before the attack (credit: CBS)

Before recess, the prosecution asked to address the pending testimony of the doctor who performed that autopsy.

The defense objected, saying the government does not have to prove the cause and manner of the death of the fetus.

"There's no charge against Aurora, she is not a victim in this case," Beck said.

Beck told Judge Maria Berkenkotter it is not an issue, legally, in the case, and any testimony on the autopsy is "irrelevant" and would be "substantially more prejudicial" to her client.

Judge Berkenkotter ruled in favor of the defense, sustaining the objection. Testimony regarding Aurora's autopsy will not be permitted in court.

Dynel Lane
Dynel Lane appears in court on Feb. 18, 2016. (credit: Matthew Jonas/Daily Camera)

Thursday morning, the court heard from Longmont Police Detective Mark Deaton and two doctors who attended to both Lane and Wilkins on March 18, 2015. The prosecution entered dozens of items and photographs of blood evidence recovered at Lane's home, including bloody sheets, knives, a mattress and clothing.

The testimony of Dr. Brian Nelson, a surgeon with UCHealth who treated Wilkins, laid the foundation for the prosecution to prove Lane was premeditated in her actions. In order to prove attempted first degree murder, they must meet that burden.

Nelson told the jury the incisions that Lane allegedly made to Wilkins' abdomen to remove the baby amounted to "a pretty decent C-section," suggesting Lane had to have known what she was doing.

"It was consistent with the work of a first-year intern," Nelson said.

The defense has maintained Lane did not plan the attack, and therefore is not guilty of the attempted first degree murder charge.

Court resumed Thursday afternoon with the testimony of a computer forensics expert who examined a tablet found in Dynel Lane's home. Longmont Police Detective Sara Pierce says she found images showing medical drawings of female anatomy, which she believes were researched the same day as the attack, shortly after midnight.

Under cross examination, however, the defense asked Pierce whether she could be certain it was Lane who searched those images. Pierce told the court she could not. Defense attorney Kathryn Herold also asked Pierce if she found any evidence on the tablet that a search had been conducted for the term "C-section," in various spellings, to which Pierce answered, "no."

The testimony appeared to be part of the prosecution's effort to prove Lane not only carried out the attack, but also planned it. To meet the burden of proof for a guilty finding of attempted first degree murder, the defense has argued the prosecution must prove Lane's actions were deliberated and premeditated.

The detective who first spoke with Wilkins at Longmont United Hospital on March 18 also testified Thursday, before court was adjourned for the day around 4:30 p.m.

The trial resumes at 9:00 a.m. on Friday.

Lauren DiSpirito is CBS4's Northern Newsroom reporter. Follow her on Twitter @CBS4Lauren. Share your story ideas with her here.

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