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Boone County prosecutor may seek death penalty against homicide suspect

LEBANON, Ind. (WISH) — A 19-year-old was charged with murder, attempted murder and 21 additional charges Monday in connection to the fatal stabbing that left one man dead and his wife seriously injured.

The Boone County prosecutor also announced he is considering seeking the death penalty in the case, which he called “everyone’s worst nightmare” and “horrific.” The aggravators that make the case eligible for the death penalty include the charges of burglary, attempted arson, attempted rape, and the fact that he committed this crime while on probation for a different felony charge, Boone County Prosecutor Todd Meyer said.

Zachariah Wright is charged with the murder of 73-year-old Max Foster and the attempted murder his wife, Sonja Foster, on June 18. The couple had been together for 50 years, an investigator said.

Other charges recently filed include burglary, sexual battery of Sonja, attempted arson in trying to light her on fire and the theft of knives in the Foster home, the prosecutor said.

The prosecutor said DNA evidence helped link Wright to the murder and attempted murder. A pair of jeans discovered at the home Wright was living in tested positive for blood linked to the Fosters.

“This criminal episode really began when the defendant left work and headed back to the home he was staying in. Along the way, he started engaging in criminal activity,” Meyer said.

Wright first stole a pickax and other items in the city’s Pearl Street area, and then more items from a car in the same area, the prosecutor said. Those items were found in the home where Wright was staying.

Later, he rode a bicycle to the Dicks Street area, where the homicide and attempted murder occurred, Meyer said.

He also tried to break into another home in the Pearl Street area, the prosecutor said.

Wright was arrested on an unrelated warrant just hours after the murder of Max Foster on June 18 and named a person of interest. His initial hearing is expected to be Tuesday morning or early afternoon, Meyer said.

Neighbors say they are relieved charges have been filed in this case.

“I was waiting for them to make the decision and let us know what was going on, it was a little unsettling all week honestly… I will sleep better tonight for sure,” said Amanda Boggess, a neighbor.

Prosecutors say there is no connection between Wright and the Fosters and they believe this to be a random act of violence.

Wright is set to face trial March 5, 2018.

“Crimes that are committed like this are not only committed against the victims, right, they are committed against all of us as citizens of this state and they are committed against the peace and dignity of our society,” said Meyer.

Max Foster’s funeral was on Saturday.

The Fosters’ family issued this statement:

On June 18th, 2017 our family and the entire city of Lebanon was rocked with the news of the home invasion and viscous attack of Max and Sonja Foster. As a result of one man’s senseless actions, Max Foster was taken from us early on Father’s Day morning. Sonja was left scarred and without her life partner of almost 50 years. Within hours of the crime, a multiagency effort resulted in the arrest of Zachariah Wright. A diligent and comprehensive investigation ensued and we were kept in the loop every step of the way. We are so thankful for the relentless efforts of Detectives Tony Bayles, Amy Dickerson and Jeff Nelson along with all law enforcement who assisted and brought us to this point. Also, we would like to thank Prosecutor Todd Meyer and his office for their diligence and the comfort they provided to us throughout the week. We take much solace knowing the right person is behind bars and will suffer the consequences of his actions. We would also like to thank the entire Lebanon community for their tremendous love and support during this extremely difficult time. As we move forward we ask for continued peace in our community, prayers and respectfully ask for privacy while we continue to cope with the loss of Max.”

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