Cheryl Swanson, left, Elaine Derstine, and her daughter, Michelle Smith, are part of a moment of silence during the vigil.
Cliffv Grassmick—AP
By Eliana Dockterman
March 27, 2015

A woman accused of cutting an unborn baby from a mother’s womb in Colorado will not be charged with murder.

Alleged attacker Dynel Lane struck after Michelle Wilkins, who was seven months pregnant, answered Lane’s Craiglist ad for baby clothes on March 18. When Wilkins arrived at Lane’s home, Lane beat her and cut out the fetus, police said. Wilkins locked herself in a room, called 911 and directed police to her location, saving her own life. The baby didn’t survive.

Prosecutors told the Denver Post Thursday that they cannot bring murder charges because Colorado does not recognize a fetus as a person by law unless it can survive outside the womb for an unspecified period of time. However, they will likely charge Lane with the unwanted termination of a pregnancy, a felony.

“Under Colorado law, essentially, there is no way murder charges can be brought if it’s not established that the fetus lived as a child outside the body of the mother,” District Attorney Stan Garnett said in a news conference last week.

Meanwhile, Republican representative Fordon Klingenschmitt is facing outrage for calling the attack an “act of God” on his evangelical YouTube channel. “This is the curse of God upon America for our sin of not protecting innocent children in the womb,” he said. “And part of that curse for our rebellion against God as a nation is that our women are ripped open.”

Though both Republicans and Democrats have condemned Klingenschmitt’s words, the conservative representative told Fox affiliate KFOR that he refuses to apologize for the comments.

[Denver Post]

Write to Eliana Dockterman at eliana.dockterman@time.com.

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