Tuesday in court a man who caused an accident that ended up killing a baby pleaded guilty. The case has been in court for the last two years while officials determined if that baby was considered a 'person' by state law.
Shea Lehnen visited the Mesa County Justice Center today for what she hopes will be the last time. "I was really just hoping to move forward," says, Lehnen.
Two years ago Logan Lage crashed his car head on into Lehnen’s SUV while fleeing from the Colorado State Patrol. Lehnen was eight months pregnant at the time and had to undergo an emergency c–section to try and save her baby. Little Lileigh was born that day but died just an hour later. In court the defense argued that charges against Lage for the baby's death were unfounded because the injuries happened in utero. Colorado law doesn't consider an unborn baby a person yet. A judge agreed so prosecutors appealed.
"I don't think the legislature intended that that child not be represented at some point especially since we have a birth certificate and a death certificate," says Deputy District Attorney Tammy Eret. Eret says this type of case was uncharted territory. "We knew it was some breaking ground and it would probably fall out somewhere in the middle," says, Eret.
Several weeks ago the Court of Appeals ruled that prosecutors couldn't charge Lage with baby Lileigh's murder, but they could charge him with child abuse resulting in death. Which is what they did and he pleaded guilty to Tuesday. Eret says this decision could set a state precedence. "In terms of similar cases, yah I think you'll see them down the line. It's the first time its been carried up this far and its nice to have closure finally," says, Eret.
With his guilty plea Lage faces 20 to 40 years behind bars. Lehnen says, "Obviously nothing really will justify his actions or what he's done to me or my family." But for Lehnen this does bring an end to the waiting. "I don't know we'll ever be done or finished but having closure on this part of it anyways will be helpful for me and my family," says, Lehnen.
Lage also pleaded guilty to second degree assault with a deadly weapon and could face more than a million dollars in fines.