A prosecutor conducting the trial of a man from Iowa whose baby died of infection from maggots in his diaper, as well as malnutrition and dehydration, last year has told a jury that the infant “died of diaper rash.”
Per a report by Des Moines Register, the tragic incident took place last year when 4-month-old Sterling Koehn was left by his negligent parents in his baby swing in a “hot, stuffy room for at least nine days before his father decided to call 911.”
Last year on August 30, the baby’s father, Zachary Paul Koehn, called 911 and reported that his baby was found dead in his swing. He told the dispatcher that his girlfriend, Cheyanne Renae Harris, fed the child and checked on him only two hours before the baby passed away.
However, upon examination of the baby’s body, the state medical examiner ruled the death a homicide, with “failure to provide critical care” as the cause of death,” per the Washington Post.
Both Zachary, 29, and the baby’s mother Cheyanne, 21, were arrested and charged with “child endangerment causing death, a class B felony, and first-degree murder, a class A felony punishable by life in prison.” While Zachary’s trial has begun, Cheyanne will undergo a separate trial which will be announced later, per Fox News.
Assistant Iowa Attorney General Coleman McAllister told jurors Tuesday that 4-month-old Sterling Koehn died of infection because he was left in his swing with the same diaper on for nine to 14 days at his parents’ Alta Vista apartment, the Fox News report detailed.
At the beginning of the trial on Tuesday, McAllister provided some graphic details of the child’s condition in his opening statement, saying that the baby’s diaper was heavily soiled so it attracted bugs that laid eggs and hatched into maggots. The insects later crawled on the baby’s skin and clothes while he was still alive. “The resulting diaper rash led to ruptured skin, and E. coli bacteria set in,” according to Fox News‘ account of McAllister’s statement.
A coroner’s report showed that it wasn’t just the infection because of maggots, but the baby also suffered from malnutrition and dehydration.
“He died of diaper rash. That’s right, diaper rash,” McAllister ironically commented on the prosecutor’s unbelievable explanation.
Zachary’s attorney said in his opening statement that although the death of the baby was tragic, it was not a crime. The defense also claimed that Zachary and Cheyanne were young and inexperienced parents and that they couldn’t afford food and baby supplies.
McAllister, however, denied the claims and ruled out the possibility of the couple being inexperienced because they also had their 2-year-old daughter living in the apartment with them who was found to be healthy.
He explained that it was not about affordability either, because Zachary “made $45,000 a year and had access to health insurance as a truck driver for Nugent Nuggets, hauling chickens from Wisconsin to Charles City, Iowa,” per Des Moines Register.
McAllister also stated that Zachary was a drug user. Although Zachary initially denied that anyone used drugs in the house, he later confessed to the law enforcement authorities that he used to give drugs to his girlfriend and was using methamphetamine twice a week.
Per court records, the baby’s mother said that she used meth two to three weeks before her son’s death, and McAllister suspects that she will use intoxication as an excuse during her trial.
McAllister further added that a friend of Zachary’s, who occasionally came over to use drugs with him, will testify at his trial that the door to the baby’s room was always shut.
“He did not even know that they had a baby,” he said.