Murder Conviction Upheld for Father of Baby Found Dead in Maggot-Filled Diaper

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Zachary Koehn (WHO 13)

IOWA – The Iowa Court of Appeals has upheld the conviction of a northeast Iowa man found guilty of murdering his four-month-old son, who was found dead in a maggot-filled diaper in 2017.

Zachary Koehn, 31, was convicted in 2018 of first-degree murder and child endangerment resulting in death. Koehn’s son, Sterling, was found dead in a baby swing in his parents’ Alta Vista apartment in August of 2017.

Investigators say Sterling had been in the same diaper for nine to 14 days at the time of his death. An autopsy determined he was malnourished and had an E coli infection from sitting in his own waste. Sterling weighed less than seven pounds when he died.

Koehn appealed the sentence claiming there was insufficient evidence, the jury was given incorrect instructions, the convictions should have merged so he would only be found guilty of a Class B felony, and some evidence should not have been allowed by the judge.

The Appeals Court decision filed Wednesday affirmed the convictions but did say the argument made by Koehn on the jury instruction claim was inadequate for them to rule on and preserved it for possible post-conviction relief proceedings at a later date.

The child’s mother, Cheyanne Harris, was also convicted of first-degree murder and child endangerment resulting in death.

Harris and Koehn are each serving sentences of life in prison.

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