Babysitter pleads not guilty in connection to foster home death of 3-year-old

Zayden Ace Larson Photo: Photo courtesy of Eagan Police
Zayden Ace Larson

January 07, 2019 08:02 PM

A woman charged in connection to the death of a 3-year-old she was babysitting pleaded not guilty in court Monday. 

According to court documents, Laronna Bourne pleaded not guilty in Hennepin County to third-degree assault and malicious punishment of a child. 

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Bourne's jury trial is set to begin April 1. 

RELATED: Man charged with murder in death of 3-year-old in foster care

According to the criminal complaint, on June 7, 2017, around 3 p.m., Eagan police officers and paramedics responded to a call that a 3-year-old was not breathing. The child was found to be cold to the touch and without a pulse. He was transported to Children's Hospital where he was pronounced dead. 

An investigation in the case revealed that on June 6, while Zeporia Fortenberry was working the night shift and left her two children, Lawson and his younger brother in the care of Charles Homich, her live-in boyfriend, and babysitter Laronna Bourne. Fortenberry stated to police that Homich told her he checked on the children during the night and had to change Lawson's diaper.

On the morning of June 7, Lawson was found lying on the floor of his bedroom with dark-colored vomit on his clothing. Throughout the day, Lawson told Fortenberry that his stomach hurt. He vomited "a couple of times" and Fortenberry told law enforcement that he was acting "lazy." She eventually put him in his pajamas and laid him on a mattress next to her bed. While on the phone with Homich, she noticed he wasn't conscious or breathing and called 911.

RELATED: Aunt still looking for answers after death of 3-year-old in foster care

An autopsy revealed his death was due to multiple blunt force injuries. 

Homich was indicted for his involvement in the murder Dec. 21. Fortenberry, 31, from Eagan, was charged in April with manslaughter. The case against her is ongoing. 

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