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Parents plead not guilty in Alta Vista child death

Parents plead not guilty in Alta Vista child death

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ALTA VISTA – Parents of a 4-month-old who died of neglect in August have pleaded not guilty to murder and child endangerment charges.

Zachary Paul Koehn, 28, and Cheyanne Renae Harris, 20, avoided courtroom appearances by filing written arraignments and not guilty pleas on Tuesday and Wednesday in Chickasaw County District Court in New Hampton. They also demanded demanded speedy trials.

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

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

Sheriff’s deputies and medics found 4-month-old Sterling Daniel Koehn dead in a swing seat after the father 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.

Authorities said the child was underweight, and the development of maggots contradicted the parents’ account of what happened and pointed to 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, court records state.


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