Dakota County Attorney James Backstrom announced that Charles Wayne Homich, age 28 (address unknown), has been indicted* by the Dakota County Grand Jury today with four counts of Murder in the First Degree and three counts of Murder in the Second Degree (all felonies listed below). These counts involved the death of three-year-old Zayden Lawson, a foster child in the care of Homich’s girlfriend, Zeporia Fortenberry, age 31 of Eagan, in June of 2017.
Specific charges include:
- Murder in the First Degree (While Committing Child Abuse-Assault in the First Degree/Past Pattern of Child Abuse)
- Murder in the First Degree (While Committing Child Abuse-Malicious Punishment of a Child/Past Pattern of Child Abuse)
- Murder in the First Degree (While Committing Child Abuse-Domestic Assault/Past Pattern of Child Abuse)
- Murder in the First Degree (While Committing Child Abuse-Neglect of a Child/Past Pattern of Child Abuse)
- Murder in the Second Degree (Commission of a Felony- Assault in the First Degree)
- Murder in the Second Degree (Commission of a Felony- Malicious Punishment of a Child)
- Murder in the Second Degree (Commission of Felony- Neglect of a Child)
Zeporia Fortenberry was charged* April 16, 2018, with one count each of Manslaughter in the Second Degree (Child Neglect; Knowingly Permits Continuing Physical Abuse) and Manslaughter in the Second Degree (Child Neglect or Endangerment). The case against her is still pending.
A summary of the allegations contained in the previous criminal complaint is set forth below:
On June 7, 2017 around 3:00 p.m., Eagan police officers and paramedics were dispatched to a townhome on a report that a three-year-old male was not breathing. The child was found to be cold to the touch and without a pulse. He was transported to Children’s Hospital where he was pronounced dead.
The investigation in this case revealed that on June 6 while Fortenberry was working the night shift and left her two children, Lawson and his younger brother in the care of Homich (her live-in boyfriend). Fortenberry stated that Homich told her he checked on the children during the night and had to change Lawson’s diaper. The morning of June 7, Lawson was found lying on the floor of his bedroom with dark-colored vomit on his clothing and floor. Throughout the day, Lawson told Fortenberry that his stomach hurt. He vomited a couple of times and Fortenberry told police that he was acting lazy. She eventually put him in his pajamas and laid him on a mattress next to her bed. While on the phone with Homich, she noticed he wasn’t conscious or breathing and called 911.
An autopsy revealed his death was due to multiple blunt force injuries.
A copy of the indictment and the previous criminal complaint can be found at Criminal Complaint Search
. If in custody, a mug shot can be viewed at Inmate Search
. Prior news release is available at County Attorney News Releases
Backstrom commented: "This little boy sustained horrific injuries allegedly at the hands of Charles Homich – injuries he may have survived had the adults in his life sought the necessary medical care he so desperately needed." Backstrom praised the Eagan Police Department for their thorough investigation in this case.
Homich is currently in custody and will make his first appearance on this indictment on December 24, 2018. At this time, his bail remains in the amount of $1,000,000 without conditions ($750,000 with conditions). If you have questions, contact James Backstrom at 651-438-4440
*Criminal charges are not evidence of guilt. A defendant/suspect is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.