Trial Date for Iowa Mom Accused of Murder of Child Found in Swing

January 29, 2018 Updated: January 29, 2018

A trial date has been set for Cheyanne Renae Harris, an Iowa mother who is accused of leaving her infant son to die in a swing set.

Harris, 20, was charged with first-degree murder and child endangerment causing death.

The Globe Gazette paper reported that she is slated to go to trial this coming Wednesday, Jan. 31, but her attorney asked the court to delay the trial to allow more time to prepare.

Judge Richard Stochl granted the request on Friday for changing the trial date to June 11, in the Chickasaw County District Court in New Hampton, Iowa.

Zachary Koehn, 28, was also charged in the death of the child, and his trial is slated for Mar. 28.

Authorities last year were called to the couple’s Alta Vista apartment on Aug. 30 of last year, finding a 4-month-old child dead in a swing set. They told officials that the child had been fed that morning, but signs of decay were found on the child’s body, including maggots.

That finding, according to officials, indicated that the boy hadn’t been moved for some time—at least a week.

“The cause of death was a failure to provide critical care,” a court complaint stated at the time.

“The facts of this case go far beyond neglect and show circumstances manifesting an extreme indifference to human life.”

The boy was found in a powered/swing seat in a different bedroom from where the couple and the other child slept, WHO-TV reported. The child was underweight, and a forensic entomologist discovered the baby “had not had a diaper change, bath, or been removed from the seat in over a week.” The medics also discovered the presence of maggots.

It started after an ambulance was called to the couple’s home after Koehn called to report that his son had died—just a few hours after he claimed Harris fed the child.

WHO-TV reported last October that Harris and Koehn had a history of using methamphetamine. The report said that Cheyenne had admitted that she was in substance abuse treatment and used the drug two to three weeks prior to the incident. Meanwhile, it said that Koehn, a road truck driver, had a history of substance abuse, saying he used meth two months before the report.

“I think figuring out where those opportunities are and using that tug on out heartstrings to make sure that we prevent it from happening again,” said KellyAnn Light-McGroary, the Chief Medical Officer for United Healthcare Community Plan of Iowa, according to the report a the time.

“I think it’s devastating. It makes me, as a physician and as a mom, thinking about where the opportunities where the parents, the providers, the health care system, our society had to intervene for that child,” said McGroary.

She added that there are a number of programs out there for parents of newborns.

“We really focus on getting moms and babies in for their post-natal checks, for their well-baby visits, because that is where you identify opportunities to intervene early,” she said.

They’re being held in jail on $100,000 bond.


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