Family Crimes

Dad Found Guilty Of Murdering 4-Month-Old Baby Who Was Left In Swing To 'Rot,' Covered In Maggots

"He let Sterling rot in that room," Assistant Attorney General Denise Timmins told Iowa jurors before they convicted Zachary Koehn of horrific and deadly neglect. 

An Iowa father will spend life in prison for letting his 4-month old baby rot in a mechanical baby swing, covered with maggots.

Zachary Koehn was found guilty Tuesday of murder and child endangerment after prosecutors said he left the small boy to die alone in room wearing a diaper filled with feces, that would eat through his skin allowing E. coli to enter the baby's blood stream and cause an infection, according to the Des Moines Register.

Prosecutors graphically described the infant's final days as flies laid eggs on him that hatched into maggots. The maggots crawled all over him as he lay dying from malnutrition, dehydration and infection. When emergency responders found the dead body—after Koehn had called 911 to report his son had died from sudden infant death syndrome— blood was coming out of his mouth, his fists were clenched and his eyes were open.

"He let Sterling rot in that room," Assistant Attorney General Denise Timmins told jurors, according to The Register. "He left him there to die."

Koehn, who took the stand in the case, had argued that he "put his trust in the wrong person," blaming the baby's mother, Cheyanne Harris, 21, whose trial for murder is still pending. However, it took the jury less than an hour to convict Koehn.

In the state of Iowa, murder carries a mandatory sentence of life without parole, which he will be sentenced to at a later date, according to The Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier.

The couple had an older daughter as well, who was found to be in good health when law enforcement arrived at the apartment. The daughter had apparently slept in the same room with her parents, while 4-month-old Sterling was found in a room on his own.

During the trial, the defense argued that Harris had been the primary caregiver and stayed at home to care for the children, according to The Courier. Michael O'Hara, a psychology professor with the University of Iowa who specializes in postpartum depression, wasn't able to examine Harris but testified that she had most likely suffered from depression before the baby's death.

Timmins said the couple also used methamphetamine and argued that Koehn had supplied Harris with the drugs, the paper reports.

A friend of the couple also took the stand during the trial to testify that although he knew Koehn had a daughter, he never knew he had a son, even though he had been to the apartment, The Register reported.

[Photo: Chickasaw County Sheriff's Office]

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