A Minnesota man has been criminally charged in connection with the death of a young foster child, KSTP-TV reports.
Authorities on Friday announced that a grand jury had indicted Charles Wayne Homich, 28, with multiple counts of first- and second-degree murder.
The charges include murder while committing child abuse, murder with a history of child abuse, murder while committing domestic assault, malicious punishment of a child and neglect.
According to court records, Homich’s girlfriend, 31-year-old Zeporia Fortenberry, was serving as a foster parent to 3-year-old Zayden Lawson in June 2017 in the Minneapolis suburb of Eagan.
Emergency crews rushed to Fortenberry’s home around 3 p.m. on June 7, 2017, in response to a call that Lawson was not breathing. When paramedics arrived, the child was cold, had no pulse and wasn’t breathing. He was later pronounced dead at a hospital.
Investigators determined that the day before, June 6, Fortenberry had left Lawson and her other children in the care of Homich while she worked an overnight shift.
Fortenberry told Homich to check on the kids during the evening and to change Lawson’s diaper.
The following morning, Lawson was discovered on his bedroom floor covered in dark vomit. The boy’s foster mother reportedly told police the boy complained that his stomach hurt later that day and he vomited multiple times after.
Fortenberry told investigators that Lawson appeared to be behaving in a “lazy” manner, and she had him to lay on a mattress alongside her bed. She later noticed that the boy had stopped breathing and was no longer conscious, so she dialed 911.
An autopsy found that Lawson died from blunt force injuries, according to the report.
Prosecutors in April charged Fortenberry with manslaughter in connection with Lawson’s death. That case remains pending.
Homich remains in custody and is being held on a $1 million bail without conditions. He is scheduled to make his first court appearance on Monday.