Mom gets life sentence in death of baby found in maggot-infested diaper

LE MARS, Iowa — A northeast Iowa mother will spend the rest of her life behind bars after being found guilty Wednesday in the death of her baby son.

A Plymouth County jury found 21-year-old Cheyanne Harris guilty of first-degree murder and child endangerment resulting in death.

Her son, Sterling, was found dead in a child swing in August of 2017 in his parents’ Alta Vista apartment. He was wearing a maggot-infested diaper that investigators say he had been wearing for at least nine days.

Assistant Attorney General Coleman McAllister said during the trial that the feces in Sterling’s diaper had attracted the maggots, and the baby’s irritated skin ultimately ruptured, causing an E. coli infection to develop, according to the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier.

The child was 4 months old at the time of his death and weighed less than seven pounds. An autopsy by the State Medical Examiner’s Office found the infant measured well below the fifth percentile in size and weight for the child’s age.

An EMT who responded to the couple’s Hilltop Avenue apartment testified that the entire room was hot and reeked of urine, and that gnats flew into the air when she moved the boy’s blanket.

Sterling’s father Zachary Koehn was convicted of the same charges back in November.

Both face mandatory sentences of life in prison without parole.

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