Zachary Koehn Given Life In Prison For Leaving Baby In Maggot-Infested Diaper For Two Weeks To Die

A baby is featured sleeping on his tummy in a white diaper.
Denis Kalinichenko / Shutterstock

The Iowa father of a baby boy who was found dead wearing a maggot-infested diaper in a baby swing will spend the rest of his days behind bars after a judge sentenced him to life in prison without parole on Tuesday in Chickasaw County District Court.

Zachary Koehn, 29, was convicted by a jury of first-degree murder last month in connection to the death of his 4-month-old son Sterling Koehn, who had been wearing the same diaper for nine to 14 days when he was found dead on Aug. 30, 2017, in the swing at his parents’ Alta Vista apartment, KRON-TV is reporting. Koehn’s mandatory sentence comes after a judge denied his request for a new trial Tuesday, according to the report.

For at least nine days, Sterling had been in a bedroom with the windows covered and the door closed, according to the Des Moines Register. Prosecutors said that the feces in the baby’s diaper broke his skin, allowing E. coli bacteria to enter his bloodstream and cause an infection, the report continues. Because the hot room he was left in attracted an abundance of flies, Sterling was covered in insects and eggs that hatched into maggots while the baby was still alive. The maggots crawled on him for days, the Des Moines Register reported.

As per the TV station report, nurse and county rescue squad EMT Toni Friedrich testified on Tuesday that she was the first to arrive at the home after Koehn called 911 to report the baby had died. According to Friedrich’s testimony, Koehn showed no emotion when he led her to the dark bedroom where the baby’s body was found.

“He was aware of what was going on and he chose to do nothing,” Assistant Iowa Attorney General Denise Timmins is quoted as saying by the Des Moine Register.

Sterling’s cause of death has been deemed a combination of malnutrition, dehydration, and infection. The boy weighed just under seven pounds at the time of his death, hardly more than his birth weight, according to the Des Moine Register. While Sterling was left to die in the bedroom, Koehn and the boy’s mother, Cheyanne Harris, continued to care for their 2-year-old daughter in the same apartment, the report continues.

Koehn’s attorneys argued his actions did not amount to murder, adding that Koehn should receive a new trial. Judge Richard Stochl denied the motions before proceeding with Koehn’s sentencing.

Harris, 21, is also charged with first-degree murder and child endangerment causing death. The mother of the dead baby is set to go to trial in January in Le Mars.