Iowa Mother Faces Murder Trial in Death of Baby Left in Maggot-Infested Diaper for up to 2 Weeks

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The mother of a baby whose lifeless body was found in an infant swing wearing a maggot-infested diaper is standing trial in his death.

Cheyanne Harris is seen in a booking photo released by the Chickasaw County Sheriff's Office.
Cheyanne Harris is seen in a booking photo released by the Chickasaw County Sheriff's Office.

Court records say 21-year-old Cheyanne Harris has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder and child endangerment resulting in death. The trial was moved to Le Mars in Plymouth County from Chickasaw County because of publicity.

Prosecutors are expected to begin their case Wednesday.

Medics called to an Alta Vista apartment in August 2017 found 4-month-old Sterling Koehn dead in the swing in a dark, sweltering bedroom. An autopsy shows he died of malnutrition, dehydration and an E. coli infection caused by being left in the maggot-infested diaper for up to two weeks.

The boy's father, Zachary Koehn, already has been sentenced to life in prison .

During his trial, a forensic entomologist was able to determine the child “had not had a diaper change, bath, or been removed from the seat in over a week.”

He died of diaper rash. That's right, diaper rash," Assistant Attorney General Coleman McAllister said during his statement in the first defendant's trial.

Koehn's defense team had argued that he had entrusted care of the baby to Harris, saying he had been working 70 to 80 hours a week as a trucker to provide for his family. His attorneys said Koehn simply failed to notice signs that Harris may have been suffering from depression, which kept her from caring for the baby.

But prosecutors argued that Koehn was a meth user who also provided Harris with drugs.

Assistant Attorney General Denise Timmins told jurors that Koehn was home often enough to know that the baby wasn't being cared for and did nothing to help him.

"He let Sterling rot in that room. He left him there to die," Timmins said.

Koehn's trial was moved from Chickasaw County to Henry County to counter pretrial publicity in the case.

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