Dakota County Attorney James Backstrom announced that Charles Wayne Homich, age 28 (address unknown), pled guilty today to one count of Murder in the Second Degree (Commission of a Felony- Malicious Punishment of a Child), in connection with the death of 3-year-old Zayden Lawson, a foster child in the care of Homich's girlfriend, Zeporia Fortenberry of Eagan, in June of 2017. Homich was indicted on December 21, 2018, by a Dakota County Grand Jury with an additional four counts of Murder in the First Degree and two counts of Murder in the Second Degree. Judge Christopher Lehmann set the sentencing date for August 13, 2019, at 9:00 a.m. in Hastings.
Zeporia Fortenberry, age 32, 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 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 releases are available at County Attorney News Releases.
Backstrom praised the Eagan Police Department for their thorough investigation in this case.
Judge Lehmann ordered Homich to remain in custody.
Backstrom stated that he can offer no comments on this plea at this time as another case relating to Zayden Lawson's death and abuse is pending.
*Criminal charges are not evidence of guilt. A defendant/suspect is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.