Foster Mother and Boyfriend Charged With Toddler’s Death
HASTINGS, Minn. (AP) — A Minnesota foster mother and her boyfriend have been charged with manslaughter and murder in the death of a 3-year-old boy who was in the woman's care.
Zayden Lawson was fatally beaten in June, authorities said. Zeporia Fortenberry, 31, has been charged with second-degree manslaughter. Her boyfriend, Charles Homich, 27, has been charged with first-degree manslaughter and second-degree murder.
Authorities found Zayden without a pulse in an Eagan townhome on June 7, according to the criminal complaint filed in Dakota County District Court. He was taken to a St. Paul hospital where he was pronounced dead.
The child had liver lacerations, cuts to his scalp, intestinal injuries and bruising on his legs, according to the autopsy. Zayden's cause of death was multiple blunt force injuries.
"The fatal injuries suffered by this little boy are extremely disturbing," said James Backstrom, Dakota County attorney.
Fortenberry worked a night shift the previous evening and asked Homich to care for her two biological children and two foster children, Zayden and his younger brother, investigators said. The complaint alleged Fortenberry knew Homich had been punching Zayden at least six weeks before he died.
Homich "would lose his cool" if he had to change Zayden's diaper, according to Fortenberry. Homich told investigators he changed the boy's diaper the night before he died, the complaint said.
Homich appeared in court on Monday. Fortenberry was in court April 12. It was not immediately clear if either defendant had hired an attorney to speak on their behalf.