Iowa Mom of Baby Found Dead in Maggot-Infested Diaper Sentenced to Life in Prison

NEW HAMPTON, Iowa — A northeast Iowa mother found guilty of her baby son’s murder will spend the rest of her life in prison.

Online court records show 21-year-old Cheyanne Harris was sentenced Tuesday to life in prison without the possibility of parole. She was found guilty of her four-month-old son Sterling Koehn’s murder earlier this month.

The baby was found dead in a child swing in August of 2017 in his parents’ apartment in Alta Vista. Investigators say he had been wearing the same maggot-infested diaper for at least nine days and weighed under seven pounds at the time of his death.

The baby’s father, Zachary Koehn, was found guilty of first-degree murder and child endangerment resulting in death back in November. He was also sentenced to life in prison.

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Kim Kardashian West meets Trump at White House to discuss prison reform!

WASHINGTON (AP) — Reality TV star Kim Kardashian West paid a visit to the White House Wednesday to make a star-powered case to President Donald Trump and his staff on behalf of a woman serving a life sentence for drug offenses.

Kardashian West has been urging the president to pardon Alice Marie Johnson, 63, who has spent more than two decades behind bars and is not eligible for parole.

It had been unclear whether the socialite would have the chance to sit down with Trump while she was in Washington, but Trump confirmed the meeting — as he often does — via Twitter, writing, “Great meeting with @KimKardashian today, talked about prison reform and sentencing.”

He included a picture of the two in the Oval Office — Trump seated behind his desk and Kardashian West, dressed in all-black, standing to his right.

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Donald J. Trump

@realDonaldTrump

“Great meeting with @KimKardashian today, talked about prison reform and sentencing.”

Kardashian West arrived at the White House just after 4:30 p.m. for what was expected to be a meeting with Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, who is overseeing the administration’s push to overhaul the nation’s prison system. She appeared to preview the visit on her Twitter feed, writing: “Happy Birthday Alice Marie Johnson. Today is for you.”

A rare A-list celebrity to visit the White House since Trump took office, Kardashian West was seen posing for photos in front of the West Wing before entering.

Attorney Brittany K. Barnett, a member of Johnson’s legal team, said Kardashian West had hoped to discuss the issue with Trump directly. She said after the meeting that she had consulted with those who had attended and said it “seemed to go well.”

“It is now in President Trump’s hands to decide whether to save Alice Johnson’s life,” Barnett said.

In an interview with Mic released earlier this month, Kardashian West said she’d been moved by Johnson’s story after seeing a video by the news outlet on Twitter.

“I think that she really deserves a second chance at life,” Kardashian told Mic. “I’ll do whatever it takes to get her out.”

Kardashian West said in the interview she’d been in touch with Kushner over the case and that, if she had the chance to bring it up with Trump, she’d tell him, “I really do believe that she’s going to really thrive outside of prison, and I would just urge him to please pardon her.”

Trump last week granted a rare posthumous pardon to boxing’s first black heavyweight champion, clearing Jack Johnson’s name more than 100 years after what many saw as a racially charged conviction.

The boxer’s pardon had been championed by actor Sylvester Stallone, who Trump said had brought the story to his attention in a phone call.

Trump has issued just a handful of pardons, including one for former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, a staunch campaign supporter; one for Scooter Libby, who served as chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney; and one for a U.S. Navy sailor convicted of taking photos of classified portions of a submarine.

Kardashian West supported Trump’s rival, Democrat Hillary Clinton, during the 2016 election. But her husband, rapper Kanye West, recently offered his support for Trump in a series of tweets, saying they both share “dragon energy.” Kardashian West defended her husband when he caught flak on social media for his tweets.

West also paid a visit to the then-president-elect in New York before his inauguration. Trump said they talked about “life” as they posed for photos in the lobby of Trump Tower. West has said he didn’t vote in the presidential election, but if he had, he would have cast a ballot for Trump.

Trump and members of his administration have spoken passionately in favor of prison and sentencing reform, but that has sometimes clashed with Trump’s law-and-order approach, especially at the Justice Department.

Indeed, Trump has called for getting tougher on drug dealers, including suggesting that some should receive the death penalty.

Johnson was convicted in 1996 on eight criminal counts related to a Memphis-based cocaine trafficking operation involving more than a dozen people. The 1994 indictment describes dozens of deliveries and drug transactions, many involving Johnson.

She was sentenced to life in prison in 1997, and appellate judges and the U.S. Supreme Court have rejected her appeals. Court records show she has a motion pending for a reduction in her sentence, but federal prosecutors are opposed, saying in a court filing that the sentence is in accord with federal guidelines, based on the large quantity of drugs involved. The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Memphis did not immediately respond to a request for comment Wednesday afternoon.

A criminal justice advocacy site, CAN-DO, and one of Johnson’s attorneys say a request for clemency was rejected by former President Barack Obama. The reasons are unclear.

A 1997 Associated Press story on Johnson’s sentencing said she headed up a multimillion-dollar drug ring. But Memphis attorney Michael Scholl, who filed the latest court documents in her request for a sentence reduction, said she was not a leader in the cocaine operation.

“What is the purpose of putting a lady with no prior criminal record, on a nonviolent drug offense, in jail for her entire life?” he said in a telephone interview. “She’s a model inmate.”

Scholl added that Johnson has admitted her wrongdoing, which is borne out in letters she has written to U.S. District Judge Samuel H. Mays, who now oversees her case.

“Judge Mays I’m writing to you to express my deep remorse for the crime that I committed over 20 years ago. I made some bad choices which have not only affected my life, but have impacted my entire family,” she said in a February 2017 letter in the court record.

In a hand-scrawled letter last June she wrote: “I’m a broken woman. More time in prison cannot accomplish more justice.”

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How jewelry robbery could land Syracuse man in prison for the rest of his life!

Theodore Robinson(Provided photo)

By Douglass Dowty

ddowty@syracuse.com

Syracuse, NY — A Syracuse man who was convicted after trial of robbing a woman of jewelry at a Salvation Army women’s shelter could spend the rest of his life in prison.

Theodore Robinson, 57, got the unusually long sentence because of his 40-year criminal history. Previous crimes — in New York City — included three other robberies and a manslaughter, County Court Judge Stephen Dougherty said today.

That made Robinson eligible for a relatively rare designation as a persistent felony offender: that is, convicted of his third felony.

But many criminals have three or more felonies on their record. Why did Robinson get treated more harshly?

For one, the law requires that the felonies be spread out over a period of years. In other words, a crime spree that leads to a bunch of felonies in a short period doesn’t count.

Second, the previous felonies must have each led to more than a year of prison. In other words, a persistent felony offender must serve prison time, get out and commit more crimes, go back to prison, get out a second time and commit even more crimes that warrant a third prison term.

Third, judges can decide against persistent felony status for criminals who fit those circumstances. In fact, the law requires the judge to lay out reasons for designating a persistent felon.

So what does persistent felon mean?

Persistent felons face the same sentence as a convicted murderer. In Robinson’s case, he faced 3 1/2 to 7 years in prison for the robbery at the homeless shelter.

But he was sentenced by Dougherty today to 15 years to life in prison.

Dougherty laid out Robinson’s history, which included a 1981 manslaughter conviction in the Bronx, as well as three other robbery convictions.

In fact, Robinson had been out of prison for only 17 years out of the past four decades, prosecutor Anthony Copani said.

His parole had been revoked five times since 2002, the judge said.

During the February 2017 robbery, Robinson attacked a woman at a shelter located at 1704 S. Salina St. The woman, who was helping women at the shelter, said the robbery took away her sense of safety.

Robinson later blamed the robbery on drug and alcohol use, but the judge noted video showing Robinson examining the jewelry to see if it was real after the robbery.

There was an accusation that Robinson pulled what looked like a gun during the robbery, but a jury did not find him guilty of that crime.

Defense lawyer Eric Jeschke argued that the judge should not have ruled Robinson a persistent felony offender, noting that a previous plea offer did not include such a provision.

But the judge replied that plea agreements are a way to settle a case, not necessarily to provide the punishment that someone deserves.

For his part, Robinson said he feared he was going to prison for the rest of his life.

“I know my history does not paint a good picture at all,” he said. “In no way am I a monster.”

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