Family Crimes

Trial Set For Iowa Mom In Death Of Infant Discovered Infested With Maggots

Cheyanne Harris has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder and child endangerment resulting in death in connection to the death of 4-month-old Sterling Koehn, who authorities say was infested with maggots when he was found last year.

Emergency responders were horrified when they discovered a deceased baby wearing a maggot-filled diaper at an Iowa home. Now, over a year later, a trial has been set for the allegedly neglected child’s mother, who has maintained her innocence in the tragic death.

Chickasaw County court records say 21-year-old Cheyanne Harris has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder and child endangerment resulting in death. Authorities have said the body of 4-month-old Sterling Koehn was infested with maggots when found Aug. 30 last year in the swing by deputies and medics called to his parents' Alta Vista apartment.

Harris' trial is set to begin Jan. 29 in Le Mars. The trial is being moved to Plymouth County because of pretrial publicity.

The child's father, Zachary Koehn, was convicted Nov. 6 of first-degree murder and child endangerment. He is seeking a new trial.

Assistant Attorney General Denise Timmins provided graphic descriptions of the scene in which Sterling was found to the jury. The baby’s diaper had allegedly not been changed for between nine and 14 days, leading to insects laying eggs on his body.

"He let Sterling rot in that room," Timmins told jurors, according to the Des Moines Register. "He left him there to die."

Timmins added that Harris and Koehn used methamphetamine and that Koehn was the supplier for the two.

Michael O'Hara, a psychology professor at the University of Iowa who specializes in postpartum depression, or PPD, said that although he did not examine her himself, it was likely Harris had suffered from the mood disorder. One out of nine women who have given birth are said to experience symptoms of PPD, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

[Photo Credit: Associated Press]

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