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The mother of a baby whose lifeless body was found in an infant swing wearing a maggot-infested diaper is standing trial in his death.
Court records say 21-year-old Cheyanne Harris has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder and child endangerment resulting in death. The trial was moved to Le Mars in Plymouth County from Chickasaw County because of publicity.
Prosecutors are expected to begin their case Wednesday.
Medics called to an Alta Vista apartment in August 2017 found 4-month-old Sterling Koehn dead in a swing in a dark, sweltering bedroom. An autopsy shows he died of malnutrition, dehydration and an E. coli infection caused by being left in the maggot-infested diaper for up to two weeks.
The boy’s father, Zachary Koehn, already has been sentenced to life in prison.
“He died of diaper rash. That’s right, diaper rash,” Assistant Iowa Attorney General Coleman McAllister said in December during that trial.
In the opening statements of Koehn’s trial, his attorney said the baby’s death was a tragedy, but not a crime.
McAllister denied the defense’s claims, saying Koehn was an experienced parent. He noted that Koehn’s 2-year-old daughter was also in the apartment and was healthy, and that Koehn had money to buy food and baby supplies. He stated Koehn was a drug user.
Nurse and county rescue squad EMT Toni Friedrich testified that she was the first to arrive at the apartment after Koehn called 911 to report the baby had died. Friedrich said Koehn showed no emotion when he led her to the dark, hot bedroom where the baby’s body was.
The baby’s “eyes were open, and it was a blank stare,” she said.
Friedrich said when she touched the baby’s chest, his clothing was crusty. When she moved his blanket, gnats flew up, she said.