Man charged in baby's death, a month after he allegedly killed mother

The baby girl died a month after being born prematurely following the killing of her mother.
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Zachary Robinson

The baby girl who was born prematurely after her mother was fatally shot in Minneapolis last month has died, and the girl's father is now charged in connection with her death. 

Zachary Robinson, 27, of St. Paul, was previously charged with second-degree murder over the fatal shooting of 27-year-old Leneesha Columbus on July 5. He is accused of opening fire following an argument in south Minneapolis. 

Now he faces another second-degree murder charge in the death of his and Columbus' baby, who was delivered at 26 weeks before Columbus died, the Hennepin County Attorney's Office announced Thursday

After the baby, named Leneesha LaDell Columbus, was born, she remained in critical condition. On Aug. 5, at 4 weeks old, she died after doctors removed her from life support following an MRI that showed she had no brain activity, the county attorney said. 

The Hennepin County Medical Examiner lists her cause of death as "complications of prematurity due to maternal trauma," calling the manner of her death a homicide. 

In addition to the two second-degree murder charges, Robinson is also facing a felon in possession of a gun charge and second-degree assault charge in connection to the July 5 shooting. He is also charged with first-degree riot in connection to a June 14 gang shootout in Minneapolis that left one man dead.

The charges

According to the criminal complaint, witnesses saw Robinson and Columbus arguing near her vehicle that was parked in a parking lot on Chicago Avenue, not far from the George Floyd memorial at Chicago Avenue and 38th Street East.

When Columbus started to drive north on Chicago Avenue, Robinson fired several shots at the SUV, witnesses said, and then went back to the parking lot, putting his gun in his waistband.

When police arrived at the scene, bystanders were performing life-saving measures on Columbus, who was pregnant, the complaint states.

The shooting happened around 9:18 p.m. and Columbus died at 10:38 p.m. at the hospital, according to the Hennepin County Medical Examiner. She died from a gunshot wound to her upper back/torso, the complaint notes.

Doctors delivered her baby, Robinson's child, at 26 weeks, the complaint says. She was born weighing 891 grams and was suffering from hypotension, neonatal seizures, neonatal jaundice and had a successful cardiopulmonary resuscitation. 

After four weeks – exactly one month after the shooting – baby Leneesha was removed from life support and died. 

About a week after the July 5 shooting, Robinson was arrested in Chicago and extradited back to Minnesota, police said. 

Robinson has a criminal history that includes felony assault convictions dating back to 2009, as well as assault charges in cases that are still pending, the complaint states. Because of past convictions, he is prohibited from possessing any firearms or ammunition.

If convicted, Robinson could face up to 40 years in prison for each second-degree murder charge, up to 10 years in prison for the second-degree assault charge and up to 15 years for the felon in possession of a firearm charge. 

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