Warning: This story contains graphic and disturbing details
MOUNT PLEASANT, Iowa – A 4-month-old child found dead and covered in maggots “died of diaper rash,” Assistant Attorney General Coleman McAllister told an Iowa jury, according to the the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier.
The child’s parents have been charged with murder after their 4-month-old son, Sterling Daniel Koehn, was found dead last summer, weighing less than 7 pounds and in a diaper that hadn’t been changed in over a week.
Cheyanne Harris, 20, and Zachary Koehn, 28, face charges of first-degree murder and child endangerment resulting in death, according to WHO-TV.
“He died of diaper rash. That’s right, diaper rash,” McAllister said during his statement in Koehn’s trial Tuesday. Harris will be tried separately.
An ambulance was called to the couple’s Alta Vista apartment on Aug. 30 after Koehn called to report that his son had died, just a few hours after he said Harris fed Sterling.
The baby was found in a powered swing seat in a different bedroom from where the couple and their other child slept.
The criminal complaint says 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. Maggots were also found in various stages of development on the child’s skin and in his clothing. A forensic entomologist was able to determine the child “had not had a diaper change, bath, or been removed from the seat in over a week.”
McAllister said 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.
An EMT who responded to the couple’s Hilltop Avenue apartment testified that the entire room was hot and reeked of urine.
“His eyes were open, and it was a blank stare,” Toni Friedrch said. She remembered thinking, “This isn’t right, this is not a baby who I can do CPR on.”
Friedrich said when she moved the boy’s blanket, gnats flew out.
The trial is scheduled to continue Wednesday in Henry County, where it was moved from Chickasaw because of the high level of publicity.