Iowa mom waives speedy trial in infant son's neglect death

Iowa mom waives speedy trial in infant son's neglect death

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Cheyanne Harris

Cheyanne Renae Harris enters a Chickasaw County courtroom.  

NEW HAMPTON – The mother of Sterling Koehn has waived her right to a speedy trial on charges she is responsible for the infant’s death.

Cheyanne Renae Harris, 21, formerly of Alta Vista, earlier this week waived her right to have trial within one year of arraignment. She is charged with first-degree murder and child endangerment causing death.

A judge approved a venue change to move the trial from Chickasaw County, but a location and date haven’t been determined.

The waiver, which took place in Chickasaw County District Court in New Hampton, came a day before a Henry County jury found Sterling’s father, 29-year-old Zachary Koehn, guilty of murder and child endangerment causing death in the child’s death following a week of testimony. Koehn's trial was also moved on a venue change.

Medics found 4-month-old Sterling death in a swing seat in the back bedroom of the couple’s Alta Vista apartment on Aug. 30, 2017, after Koehn called 911.

A medical examiner determined the baby died of malnutrition, dehydration and infection from diaper rash, and a forensic entomologist found that developing maggots in the diaper showed it hadn't been changed in nine to 14 days.

Koehn had argued that he worked long hours driving truck to support the family, and he said Harris, who didn’t work outside the home, had been Sterling’s primary caretaker, which was also a statement Harris herself made to investigators, according to testimony. He denied noticing Sterling was in dire straits.

Koehn’s defense team also introduced a psychologist specializing in postpartum depression who testified that Harris may have been depressed following Sterling’s birth because she had been identified with depression following the earlier birth of their daughter and because she had been taking Lexapro anxiety medication.

Harris’ attorney has filed a notice she could use a diminished responsibility or intoxication defense at trial and listed an Ames forensic psychologist as a possible witness.

Diminished responsibility generally means a defendant's mental capacity at the time of the crime may have been reduced to the point where she couldn't possess the intent to commit the offense.

Photos: North Iowa's mugshots of 2018


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