Harris granted continuance, jury trial won't start until June
An Alta Vista mother accused of killing her four-month-old infant son last August has been granted a continuance in her murder trial, and her case won’t see the courtroom until June.
The trial of Cheyanne Renae Harris, 20, was tentatively set to begin later this month, but she waived her speedy trial rights. Her attorney, Aaron Keith Hawbreaker, with the Black Hawk County Public Defender’s Office, filed a motion for continuance on Jan. 12. Judge Richard D. Stochl heard the motion on Tuesday, Jan. 23 at a trial scheduling conference and granted the motion on Friday.
Harris is now scheduled for a pre-trial conference on May 22 at 11 a.m., with the jury trial scheduled to start on June 11 at 9:30 a.m. at the Chickasaw County Courthouse in New Hampton.
Harris will be tried separately from the child’s biological father, Zachary Koehn, whose trial is set to start in March.
Their baby, Sterling, was found deceased in his infant swing Aug. 30 in the apartments on Hilltop Ave. in Alta Vista. After a lengthy investigation, charges were filed by the Chickasaw County Sheriff’s Office on Oct. 24. The two were arrested the following day for first-degree murder and child endangerment causing death. Harris was picked up by police in Riceville, while Koehn was arrested in Charles City, where he had recently started a job as a truck driver.
The criminal complaint indicated the child hadn’t had a diaper change, bath or been removed from the swing in over a week. The investigation indicated the parents’ various accounts of the death were inconsistent with the findings of the autopsy and investigation.
“The cause of death was a failure to provide critical care,” the complaint stated. “The facts of this case go far beyond neglect and show circumstances manifesting an extreme indifference to human life.”
Koehn was granted a continuance earlier this month, when Stochl granted his defense motion to delay trial.
His trial date has been set for March 20 in Chickasaw County District Court in New Hampton. Koehn’s attorney, Steve Drahozal, with the Dubuque County Public Defender’s Office, had asked for the delay to allow for more time to prepare for trial. The state didn’t resist the request, and Koehn, age 28, had waived his speedy trial rights in December.
For more of this article, see Tuesday's Tribune.