https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-6361553/Iowa-man-convicted-murder-death-son-maggot-infested-baby-swing.htmlZachary Paul Koehn, 29, of Alta Vista, was convicted in under two hours and received a mandatory prison sentence of life without parole for the child endangerment that caused the death of four-month-old Sterling Koehn.
'He let Sterling rot in that room. He left him there to die,' Assistant Attorney General Denise Timmins said.
Timmins alleged that the father's motive may have been that he did not want the child.
He didn't believe he was his biological son initially due to his lighter complexion. It was later determined that the child was his.
Timmins also noted his drug habit that caused him to spend $140 to $280 per week on meth that he also gave to Harris.
'He trusted her, yet he's the one who gave her drugs,' Timmins added in response to Koehn's excuse he had trusted the child's mother to take care of the baby.
His attorneys said he didn't notice Harris was suffering from depression that prevented her from properly caring for the baby because he was busy providing for his family
However, Timmins told the jury that Koehn was home often enough to recognize the signs of neglect but did nothing about it.
The court had heard devastating testimony about how the boy's maggot-infested body was found after he died of extreme 'diaper rash' at the start of his father's trial for murder.
Sterling had been in the same diaper for nine to 14 days when his corpse was found in the swing August 30, 2017, at his parents' apartment.
Harris, 21, was charged with first-degree murder and child endangerment resulting in death after Sterling died of malnutrition, dehydration and infection. The baby's father, Zachary Koehn, 29, was found guilty of those charges in November.
Nichole Watt, a Waterloo public defender representing Harris, said while Sterling's death is a tragedy, it was not a planned murder. Harris suffered from postpartum depression and self-medicated, but she had no desire to harm her son, she said.
"The monster, in this case, is mental health," Watt said, telling jurors they would not hear evidence of typical child abuse injuries, such as broken bones or bruises. "You're not going to hear any evidence that she's evil; that's because she's not evil."
Sterling was found dead on a mechanical swing, weighing less than seven pounds, an ounce more than when he was born. Feces in his diaper ate through his skin, allowing E. coli bacteria to enter his bloodstream and cause infection, authorities said.
The hot room he was in attracted flies, which laid eggs that hatched into maggots while Sterling was alive; they crawled in his clothes and his diaper for days, prosecutors said. A forensic entomologist who examined insects on Sterling's body concluded the baby had been in his swing for nine to 14 days in the same diaper.
Autopsy photographs appeared to show the boy — wearing camouflage pants and a shirt with a cartoon cow above the words "let's play" — bleeding from the mouth.
The infant's father called 911 on Aug. 30, 2017, and lied to the dispatcher when he suggested Sterling died of sudden infant death syndrome, prosecutors said. Chickasaw County sheriff's deputies found the boy's body in a bedroom separate from where Koehn, Harris and their older child slept.
Photographing the room, a deputy saw scuttle flies as he moved a blanket off Sterling's body, McAllister said. The deputy began preserving evidence, the prosecutor said, because by then, "little Sterling Koehn’s body was a crime scene."
As Sterling was left in the swing, the couple continued to clothe and feed their healthy 2-year-old daughter, McAllister said. Harris, a stay-at-home mom, was in the next room as Sterling died slowly, prosecutors said.
The state medical examiner determined the boy's death was a homicide; his cause of death was listed as failure to provide critical care. In charging documents, a deputy wrote that the case facts "go far beyond neglect."
"She failed little Sterling," McAllister said.
Harris' defender told jurors Wednesday at the Plymouth County Courthouse in Le Mars that they may wonder: "What kind of monster could do something like this?" But she said Harris, who reported last using meth weeks before the death, had no ill will toward Sterling.
She began crying after prosecutors showed the jury crime scene photographs.
Harris was expected to use intoxication or diminished responsibility as a defense, indicating in court records an Ames psychologist may serve as a witness.
All of this!I guess I must be confused....
I was under the impression that diminished capacity due to drug/alcohol use simply isn’t a defense. Maybe “blame drugs” worked back in the day, hence the fact that this defense exists, but now?
I hope she tells the judge this, straightfaced “it’s not my fault your honor, it’s that dirty, evil meth that killed my baby. I’m just a victim!!”
After four hours of deliberation, jurors found 21-year-old Cheyanne Harris guilty of first-degree murder and child endangerment causing death.
The defense contended during closings that Harris could be convicted of child endangerment causing death but fought the murder charge.
First-degree murder carries a mandatory life sentence without parole. Sentencing has tentatively been set for Feb. 19.
From the same article..
The child’s father, Zachary Koehn, was convicted Nov. 6, 2018, of first-degree murder and child endangerment.
A conviction on first-degree murder carries a mandatory sentence of life in prison without parole in Iowa. Koehn is seeking a new trial.
A mother has been found guilty of murdering her 4-month-old son, whose lifeless body was found in an infant swing in northeast Iowa.
So, being a meth junkie is classified as "self-medicating", okay.... Harris suffered from postpartum depression and self-medicated, but she had no desire to harm her son ....
Yeah @Craygor , I have to agree, I don't see how using meth in any way can be considered "self-medicating", it's not a pain killing/numbing drug like opioids or alcohol - hell, even cocaine if injected intramuscular (not intravenously) could vaguely be considered a type of "self-medicating" for localized pain relief.So, being a meth junkie is classified as "self-medicating", okay.
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Cheyanne "I didn't kill my baby, I just didn't do anything" Harris
Any parent who lets their child die by neglect and doesn't feel horrible enough to plead guilty and accept whatever punishment the courts decides, are pieces of shit who didn't really love their child in the first place. No real parent, not even if they were a junkie at the time of the incident, would want to live once they sobered up and realized what they did. Fuck her for allowing this to go to court.
An Iowa woman whose infant son's lifeless body was found in a baby swing has been imprisoned for life without possibility of parole.
Court records say 22-year-old Cheyanne Harris was sentenced Tuesday in New Hampton to the state-mandated penalty, and her request for a new trial was denied.
The baby's father, Zachary Koehn, also has been sentenced to life in prison.
The Iowa Court of Appeals has upheld the termination of Cheyanne Harris’ parental rights to her daughter in a decision issued Wednesday.
The daughter, who was 2 years old at the time, was removed from the family’s Alta Vista home in August 2017 after Harris’ son, 4-month-old Sterling Koehn, was found dead in a swing wearing a diaper infested with maggots in a back bedroom
Court records show Iowa Department of Human Services workers removed the daughter from the home following Sterling’s death and placed her in foster care. Harris and Koehn were arrested in October 2017.
Harris argued her financial situation following her arrest and the toddler’s removal prevented her from posting bail in the murder case, so she wasn’t able to take part in the DHS programs and services needed to be reunited with her daughter.
In the decision handed down Wednesday, the Iowa Court of Appeals noted Harris didn’t challenge the underlying grounds for the termination and agreed she wouldn’t be available to be a custodial parent at the time the matter was pending or currently.
Court records indicate after the removal, a hair test on the daughter was positive for methamphetamine, as were hair tests on the parents. The juvenile court deemed her a child in need of assistance because of the test results, and the state sought termination for Harris’ parental rights in July. The juvenile court also terminated Koehn’s parental rights, but he didn’t appeal.