Parents plead not guilty in death of baby

Koehn and Harris file written arraignments

Cheyanne Harris and Zachary Koehn, the parents of a 4-month-old who died of neglect in August, have retained counsel and pleaded not guilty to murder and child endangerment charges.

Koehn, 28, and Harris, 20, filed written arraignments and “not guilty” pleas last Tuesday and Wednesday in Chickasaw County District Court in New Hampton. They requested speedy trials. The written arraignments allowed both Koehn and Harris to avoid courtroom appearances.

Attorney Aaron Hawbaker with the Black Hawk County Public Defender’s Office is representing Harris, while Koehn is being represented by Steven Drahozal with the Dubuque County Public Defender’s Office.

Sheriff’s deputies and medics found 4-month-old Sterling Daniel Koehn dead in a swing seat after Koehn called 911 to their Wilson Street apartment in Alta Vista on Aug. 30. Koehn said Harris had fed the infant earlier that day but when he checked on the child later, he was dead. Later, Koehn and Harris changed their story and told deputies they had last fed the infant the previous day.

Authorities said the child was underweight, and further investigation contradicted both accounts of what happened. Evidence indicated the child not having been bathed, changed or moved from the swing seat in at least a week. A state medical examiner ruled Sterling’s death was a homicide due to failure to provide critical care. The medical examiner stated the facts of this case go far beyond death and show circumstances manifesting indifference to human life.

Charges were filed by the Chickasaw County Sheriff’s Office on Tuesday, Oct. 24. The two were arrested the following day for first-degree murder and child endangerment causing death.

A trial date hasn’t been set, and both parents remain in custody pending trial. 

Koehn is being held in the Chickasaw County jail while Harris is being held in the Bremer County in Waverly.


For more of this article, see Tuesday's New Hampton Tribune.

New Hampton Tribune

10 North Chestnut Ave
New Hampton, IA 50659
Phone: (641) 394-2111

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