The boyfriend of an Eagan foster mother pleaded guilty Tuesday to second-degree murder in the June 2017 death of a 3-year-old boy who was in the woman’s care.
Charles Wayne Homich, 28, caused the “multiple blunt force injuries” that authorities say led to the death of Zayden Lawson on June 6-7, 2017.
Lawson’s foster mother, Zeporia Fortenberry, 32, was charged about a year ago with two counts of manslaughter. The case against her is still pending.
According to criminal complaints, police and paramedics were called to Fortenberry’s townhouse on the afternoon of June 7 after Fortenberry said the boy had stopped breathing. She found Zayden that morning lying on the floor with dark-colored vomit on the walls and his clothes, she said.
Zayden had complained throughout the day that his stomach hurt, she said.
Fortenberry said she lived with her two biological children and two foster children, including Zayden and his younger brother, the complaints said.
Because she worked the night shift, someone else would watch the children while she was gone. The night before had been the first time she had let Homich, who lived with them, babysit, she said.
Fortenberry said Homich told her he checked on the children during the night and changed Zayden’s diaper.
Fortenberry knew that Homich was punching Zayden for weeks before he died and that the little boy was “really scared” of her boyfriend, the complaints said.
Homich would “lose his cool” if he had to change Zayden’s diaper, Fortenberry told police.
Zayden had no pulse when paramedics arrived and was taken to Children’s Hospital in Minneapolis, where he was pronounced dead.
“This little boy sustained horrific injuries … injuries he may have survived had the adults in his life sought the necessary medical care he so desperately needed,” Dakota County Attorney James Backstrom said when Homich was charged.
Backstrom said Tuesday that he couldn’t comment on the plea because another case related to Zayden Lawson’s death and abuse is pending.
Homich will be sentenced by Judge Christopher Lehmann on Aug. 13. Lehman ordered Homich to remain in custody.