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Charges: Man fatally stabbed mother of his unborn child

This is the first domestic violence-related homicide of 2017.

A 23-year-old man is charged with fatally stabbing the mother of his unborn child.

Vern Mouelle, of Brooklyn Park, was charged Thursday with two counts of second-degree murder in the deaths of 25-year-old Senicha Marie Lessman and his unborn son Tuesday afternoon.

According to the criminal complaint:

Lessman's mother went to her Eagan home Tuesday afternoon to bring Lessman to a doctor's appointment. When she arrived, she found Lessman's naked body on the bedroom floor and there was a bloody cloth in her mouth.

She called police, who arrived just before 3 p.m.

Lessman, who had a stab wound to her neck, was pronounced dead at the scene. An autopsy confirmed she died of a severed carotid artery and an obstructed airway. Lessman was 32-weeks pregnant with Mouelle's son.

Witnesses told police they saw a gold SUV in Lessman's driveway between 1:20 p.m. and 1:45 p.m. Tuesday. Police connected the vehicle to Mouelle's parents, who told investigators Mouelle regularly used the SUV.

When police spoke with Mouelle, he denied being at Lessman's home that afternoon.

Police searched the vehicle and found a receipt for a pocket knife that was purchased at 12:06 p.m., as well as packaging for the knife, Lessman's cellphone, a bloody trash can, and bloody women's clothing.

When police searched Mouelle's parents' home, they found a pocketknife in Mouelle's dresser that appeared to have blood on it.

If convicted, Mouelle could face up to 40 years in prison for each murder charge.

Lessman was described as a "loving, kind, smart and beautiful young woman who was very excited to be a mother." Her death is the first domestic violence-related homicide of 2017, according to the Minnesota Coalition for Battered Women.

There were 21 known people who were killed in domestic violence incidents last year, the group says.

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