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Jury seated in trial for mother in Alta Vista infant death

Jury seated in trial for mother in Alta Vista infant death

LE MARS — Prosecutors will begin presenting their case today against a former Alta Vista woman charged in the death of her infant son in August 2017.

Cheyanne Harris, 21, was charged with murder and child endangerment after authorities found her 4-month-old son, Sterling Koehn, dead in a swing seat after the boy’s father called 911.

Maggots were found in the child’s diaper, leading investigators to believe the boy hadn’t been changed in more than a week, and an autopsy determined he died of malnutrition, dehydration and a diaper rash infection.

Harris’ trial had been moved to the Plymouth County Courthouse in Le Mars because of pretrial publicity.

Her attorneys have indicated they may use diminished responsibility or intoxication defenses to fight the charges, and expert witnesses for the defense may include a psychologist and an expert in postpartum depression.

Court officials spent Tuesday assembling a jury of 10 men and four women.

In addition to questions about the concepts of reasonable doubt and connections to law enforcement or the medical field, prospective jurors were asked if they could put their feelings aside and be able to follow the law, and their ability to stick with their opinions if others disagree with them.

Defense attorney Aaron Hawbaker questioned potential jurors about experiences with mental illness.

The trial is expected to last into next week with no trial Monday because of other scheduled hearings in Plymouth County that day.

The website Law & Crime Network is planning to live stream the trial, and Court TV is filming the proceedings for broadcast on cable at a later date.

Sterling’s father, Zachary Koehn, 29, was convicted of murder and child endangerment following trial in October.


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