Capital Clicks

Trial rescheduled for caregiver charged with murder

By: - May 10, 2023 4:51 pm

Catherine Forkpa, a former caregiver at Bondurant’s Courtyard Estates at Hawthrone Crossing, is charged with second-degree in the death of a resident at the assisted living center. (Photo illustration by Iowa Capital Dispatch. Photos by Polk County Jail and Clark Kauffman/Iowa Capital Dispatch)

The murder trial of an assisted-living caregiver, originally scheduled for next week, has been moved to September.

Catherine Forkpa, 31, is charged with second-degree murder in the death of 77-year-old Lynne Stewart at Courtyard Estates at Hawthorne Crossing, an assisted living center in Bondurant. The charge carries a penalty of up to 50 years in prison.

The murder charge is highly unusual for a case involving a care-facility worker accused of neglect.

State records indicate Stewart walked out of Courtyard Estates about 9:40 p.m. on Jan. 21, 2022, triggering a series of alarms at the facility. According to police, surveillance video shows Forkpa, a caregiver at the home, walking around the facility for hours without checking on Stewart or resetting the alarm system.

Shortly after 6 a.m., workers found Stewart outside, on the ground, with her parts of her body covered in ice. She was pronounced dead at a nearby hospital. Forkpa, who had worked at Courtyard Estates for seven months, was fired and four other employees were given written warnings for their failure to respond to door alarms, according to state records.

The criminal trial was scheduled for March 6, then pushed to May 15. Last week, with prosecutors indicating that all efforts to reach a plea agreement had not yet been exhausted, the trial was rescheduled for Sept. 11.

A status hearing is scheduled for July 20.

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Clark Kauffman
Clark Kauffman

Deputy Editor Clark Kauffman has worked during the past 30 years as both an investigative reporter and editorial writer at two of Iowa’s largest newspapers, the Des Moines Register and the Quad-City Times. He has won numerous state and national awards for reporting and editorial writing.