An Iowa woman who allowed her 4-month-old son to die in a swing, dehydrated and wearing a maggot-infested diaper, will spend the rest of her life behind bars without parole. The conviction comes two months after the boy’s father was sent to prison for life in connection with the baby’s death.
The Courier reports that on Wednesday, a jury found Cheyanne Harris, 21, guilty of first-degree murder and child endangerment, in connection with the 2017 death of her infant son, Sterling Koehn. Harris, along with the baby’s father, 29-year-old Zachary Paul Koehn, failed to take care of their infant son, yet still provided care for their oldest child, a toddler.
On August 30, 2017, Zachary Koehn called 911 after finding Sterling deceased in a hot a bedroom with closed windows in their Alta Vista apartment. A medical examiner said the baby had already been dead at least half a day to a day before anyone called for help. Koehn told a 911 dispatcher that Sterling died from sudden infant death syndrome, but an autopsy proved otherwise.
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GUILTY: Cheyanne Harris is facing a mandatory life sentence after a jury found her guilty of first-degree murder and child endangerment causing death in the death of her 4-month-old son Sterling Koehn. https://t.co/X6aN2MV79W
— KCRG (@KCRG) February 6, 2019
The humid, blistering temperatures inside the bedroom eventually attracted flies, as the baby’s parents left him alone in an infant swing for nine to 14 day. The flies hatched eggs which turned into maggots that crept all over the baby’s skin. Sterling had not been picked up, fed, cleaned or cared for in days.
Authorities said the baby’s feces inside his diaper seeped through his skin, causing an E. coli bacteria build-up in his bloodstream.
Cheyanne Harris Criminal C… by on Scribd
As CrimeOnline previously reported, A forensic entomologist determined how long the infant was left without a diaper change due to the maggots found inside the diaper. Further, since the baby wasn’t fed or given anything to drink, he died from infection, dehydration, and malnutrition, per court documents.
Autopsy photos showed that Sterling, who had on tiny camouflage pants and a shirt with a cartoon cow on it when he died, had blood coming out of his mouth. Harris let out a cry when prosecutors presented the photos during trial, according to the Des Moines Register.
Cheyanne Harris is on trial in Plymouth County for first-degree murder and child endangerment in the neglect death of Sterling Koehn. She became overwhelmed in court by evidence photos of her deceased 4-month-old son. https://t.co/ADxHNRGWA5
— KCRG (@KCRG) January 30, 2019
Last week, the jury heard from Jason Clark, a man who testified he used meth with Harris and Koehn inside her apartment several times, for up to five hours each visit prior to the baby’s death. He said he never had any clue they had a young baby living in the home.
Clark, who met the couple while working with Koehn, said he knew only of a 2-year-old daughter, who was in the apartment when he went to the master bedroom to smoke meth with her parents.
Prosecutors said money and health insurance should not have been an issue for the parents. Koehn apparently made $45,000 a year as a truck driver and had access to health insurance coverage for his family.
Harris’ public defender, Nichole Watt, fought the murder charges during trial and instead, said Harris should be found guilty only of child endangerment. Watt claimed Harris was suffering from postpartum depression.
“The monster, in this case, is mental health,” Nichole Watt said.
The jury took fours hours to deliberate before returning with a guilty verdict. The state of Iowa carries an automatic sentence of life in prison without parole for first-degree murder convictions.
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[Feature Photo: Sterling Koehn & Cheyenne Harris/Police Handout]