Defendant in murder case dies in hospital

Feb. 01, 2013 @ 06:00 PM

Lenita Siplen Fortson, the Henderson woman charged with killing her husband on New Year’s Day, has died and her attorney said it could have been prevented.

Fortson was charged with first-degree murder in the shooting death of her husband, 41-year-old Royvitt Lawedy Fortson, at a BP station off exit 229 of Interstate 85. She was arrested and jailed in Warren County, where Sheriff Johnny Williams had her transferred to the state system because his jail couldn’t handle her medical conditions.

Last Saturday, a meeting of her defense attorney and the prosecution with Superior Court Judge Robert H. Hobgood allowed a signature bond release due to a medical condition. She was hospitalized at WakeMed.

Court records indicate she left incarceration on life support and possibly brain dead.

“She was in critical condition,” said Assistant District Attorney William J. Williamson. “They did not expect her to live. I am sorry that she died, that is certainly a tragedy.”

Fortson’s defense attorney, Steven B. DeCillis, said the tragedy took place needlessly after clear indication had been presented to Warren County courts that she was not a flight risk and she was in great need of extensive medical care.

“In our argument to lower her bond and in our discussions with the sheriff’s department, we gave them notice of her extreme medical condition,” DeCillis said. “In my opinion, she would have been much better off in the care of her own doctors.”

Williamson and DeCillis were conservative in responses to a possible civil case.

“I think the family needs time to heal from the tragic loss of a loved one, a loss that could have been prevented,” DeCillis said.

“We don’t involve ourselves with civil matters,” Williamson said. “I do not know of any prospective claim.”

After Fortson’s arrest, District Attorney Sam Currin said that case evidence indicated Lenita Fortson drove Royvitt Fortson to the BP fuel station just off exit 229 of Interstate 85, at about 9:30 p.m. Jan. 1, and that a second person was involved.

Williams confirmed on Friday that an investigation in connection to the incident is ongoing, but a second arrest has not been made.

Contact the writer at mfisher@hendersondispatch.com.