A jury found an Iowa man guilty Wednesday for last year’s death of his 4-month-old son—who was found covered in maggots in his swing.
The Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier reported that it took a jury less than an hour to convict Zachary Paul Koehn, 29, of first-degree murder and child endangerment causing death in connection with the August 2017 death of Sterling Koehn.
As CrimeOnline reported last year, Zachary, along with his girlfriend and baby’s mother, Christine Harris, 21, were criminally charged after first responders found Sterling’s body in a powered swing located at the couple’s Alta Vista apartment. The baby was located in a bedroom away from where his older sibling and his parents slept.
An autopsy obtained by the Des Moines Register called attention to “maggots in various stages of development in his clothing and on his skin,” with a forensic entomologist finding that said maggots indicated that the infant hadn’t been removed from the swing, gotten a diaper change or bath in more than a week.
A father is charged in the death of Sterling Koehn, who was in the same maggot-infested diaper for nine to 14 days when EMTs were called to the home: https://t.co/T0PumVgPv1 pic.twitter.com/xwiKEa0Ocf
— 48 Hours (@48hours) November 5, 2018
Prosecutors revealed during the trial that Sterling died of diaper rash. Assistant Attorney General Denise Timmins described how the 4-month-old died a painful death from malnutrition, dehydration, and infection, according to The Courier.
The Register reported that Sterling weighed less than seven pounds when he died. Photos presented in court showed the infant wearing camo pants and a shirt with a cartoon cow and the words “let’s play”—with blood seeping out his mouth.
While it’s unclear why Zachary let his son die, Timmins claimed there’s evidence that he didn’t want the baby or believed he wasn’t his biological father. While he was confirmed to have fathered Sterling, relatives claimed Zachary was still doubtful because Sterling had a lighter complexion, according to The Courier.
Defense attorneys called on a psychology professor specializing in postpartum depression who testified that Harris likely suffered from depression at least two years earlier, after the birth of their first daughter. The professor said a combination of financial stress and relationship turmoil likely contributed to her depression.
The defense went on to unsuccessfully argue that Zachary had been working to support his family and didn’t notice his girlfriend’s depression, which could’ve prevented her from adequately caring for Sterling. KCRG reported that the prosecution said Zachary failed to act responsibly and claimed his drug use might’ve played a role in his neglectful behavior.
The Iowa father will be sentenced to life without parole at a later date. Meanwhile, Harris has pleaded not guilty to the same charges. Her trial is pending.
[Featured Image: Zachary Koehn/Chickasaw County Sheriff’s Office; Sterling Koehn/Facebook]