Dakota County Attorney James Backstrom announced that Zeporia Fortenberry, age 32 of Eagan, pled guilty today to one count of Manslaughter in the Second Degree (Child Neglect-Knowingly Permits Continuing Physical Abuse), in connection with the death of 3-year-old Zayden Lawson, a foster child in her care, in June of 2017. Judge David Knutson sentenced Fortenberry to 41 months in prison, imposed a $500 fine and ordered restitution to be paid. The additional count of Manslaughter in the Second Degree (Child Neglect or Endangerment) was dismissed.
Fortenberry's boyfriend, Charles Wayne Homich, age 28, pled guilty April 23, 2019, to one count of Murder in the Second Degree (Commission of a Felony-Malicious Punishment of a Child) and will be sentenced on August 13, 2019, at 9:00 a.m. in Hastings.
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 commented: "We are pleased to have held Zeporia Fortenberry responsible for her role in this tragic case that claimed the life of this little boy.
Backstrom praised Heather Pipenhagen and Deanna Natoli, the Assistant County Attorneys who prosecuted this case. Backstrom also thanked the Eagan Police Department for their thorough investigation in this case.
If you have questions, contact James Backstrom at 651-438-4438.