Friend: Iowa dad kept baby secret before diaper rash death

A friend of an Iowa man whose infant son was found dead while wearing a maggot-infested diaper testified he wasn't aware the man had an infant son.

Nov. 1 (UPI) — A friend of an Iowa man whose infant son was found dead while wearing a maggot-infested diaper testified he wasn’t aware the man had an infant son.

Jordan Clark, a former friend of Zachary Koehn, 29, said Wednesday that he knew Koehn had a daughter because he would talk about her, but was unaware of his infant son, Sterling Koehn, despite visiting the apartment. Clark developed a relationship with the baby’s 21-year-old mother, Cheyenne Harris, following his death.

Clark also testified that Koehn and Harris smoked methamphetamine and Koehn bought $20 to $40 worth of meth from him on a weekly basis.

Prosecutor Coleman McAllister said Tuesday that Koehn’s actions directly resulted in the death of his 4-month-old son. Koehn faces charges of murder and child endangerment. His trial began Tuesday.

“He died of diaper rash. That’s right, diaper rash,” McAllister said during his opening statement. “He directly caused Sterling’s death.”

McAllister said Koehn and Harris, who will be tried separately, hadn’t changed Sterling’s diaper in the nine to 14 days before emergency services were called to their apartment.

The child was left alone in a hot room that attracted flies that laid eggs in his diaper. Those eggs hatched into maggots while Sterling was alive and those maggots crawled in his clothes and diaper for days.

“The feces that sat in that diaper ate through his skin, allowing E. coli bacteria that was in his diaper and in his stool to enter his bloodstream and cause an infection,” McAllister said.

Koehn’s attorney, Les Blair, said the death was “a tragedy, not a crime” and urged the jury not to rush to judgement in the case.

“You need to make sure that you keep an open mind, that you listen to all the evidence and that you don’t draw any conclusions or reach any conclusions until after you’ve heard everything,” Blair said.

Koehn called 911 on Aug. 30, 2017, saying Sterling had died of sudden infant death syndrome, but McAllister said that wasn’t true.

“This was not an accident. That was a cover story concocted by this defendant to cover the awful truth,” he said.

McAllister also noted the couple continued to clothe and feed their 2-year-old daughter while Sterling was left in his swing in the unchanged diaper.

The owner of the trucking company Koehn worked for also testified Wednesday, confirming he hired Koehn in mid-May 2017 with a $45,000 salary. He said Koehn received his first paycheck on June 2, 2017, and was offered health insurance but declined.

“This is not a case, the evidence will show, where you hear about a young, inexperienced parent or somebody who did not know how to care for children,” he said.


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