A man accused of stabbing a pregnant Eagan woman to death last month is now being charged with first-degree murder.
Vern Mouelle, 23, was charged in January with two counts of second-degree murder in the deaths of 25-year-old Senicha Lessman and their unborn son, but on Friday a grand jury indicted him on the upgraded charges, which include two counts of first-degree murder and two counts of second-degree murder.
First-degree murder charges can only be brought against someone by a grand jury, per Minnesota state law.
"These charges reflect allegations that this was a premeditated and intentional domestic-related homicide, which tragically claimed the life of Senicha Lessman and her unborn child. Our deep sympathy is extended to the victim's family and friends," Dakota County Attorney James Backstrom said in a statement.
Mouelle is expected to appear in court on these upgraded charges on Monday. He's currently being held on $2 million bail.
Lessman was described as a “loving, kind, smart and beautiful young woman who was very excited to be a mother.” Her death is believed to be 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.