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Man charged in connection to St. Paul assault, homicide

Updated: January 17, 2020 10:26 PM

A 32-year-old man has been charged in connection to an assault and homicide that occurred last weekend in St. Paul, according to court documents.

A criminal complaint states Zenas Farkarlun faces one count of second-degree murder, one count of first-degree robbery and one count of second-degree assault. The Ramsey County Attorney's Office said on Friday the victim was identified as Cornella Roybal of St. Paul. The report cites the distinct bruise on her mouth and bruising to the left side of her face which revealed a significant amount of blood from a subdural hematoma.

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Cornella Roybal of St. Paul. Photo courtesy of family.


According to the complaint, authorities were called to a home on the 100 block of Arlington Avenue East Saturday on the report of an assault. When officers arrived, they learned that a male victim had been struck in the face with the side of a machete blade. A female victim, Roybal, had been punched twice in the head, but went to bed before officers arrived.

Roybal's live-in boyfriend told police a group of people had been watching the Vikings game when the male victim started making fun of Farkarlun's face tattoos.

"He came out of the kitchen with a machete," said Warren Charwood, Roybal's fiancé. "We were being held hostage, holding a machete, and was telling us to give him everybody's cell phone, money, debit card [...] He said he was going to kill my friend and if he did, he'd leave with no witnesses."

The complaint says Farkarlun grabbed a machete from a closet and hit the man with the dull side of the weapon. When Roybal stepped between the two, Farkarlun hit her twice, according to the woman's live-in boyfriend.

Farkarlun took off and was arrested later by the Minneapolis SWAT Team.

On Sunday, police were called just after 6:30 a.m. to the same residence on the report of a woman who was not breathing.

First responders found Roybal from the earlier incident without signs of life. The woman's boyfriend told police he heard Roybal snoring around midnight. He said when he woke up, he found her unresponsive.

Roybal went to sleep that night with head injuries, and Charwood says he found her unresponsive the next morning.

"They took a young life away. They took a mother away. They took a sister away. They took an auntie away," said Carol Whitefeather, Roybal's mother. 

"She didn't deserve that."

The Ramsey Medical Examiner's Office ruled the cause of death was traumatic head injuries due to a physical assault.

Farkalun was already in the court system. He has a sentencing for domestic assault coming up in Ramsey County Court. 

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