An Iowa woman charged in the death of her baby left the courtroom sobbing during the first day of her trial when prosecutors showed photos of her lifeless son in a swing set.

The Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier reports 21-year-old Cheyanne Harris caused a break in her trial Wednesday at the Plymouth County Courthouse in Le Mars.

Harris talks with her attorney during her court appearance on Wednesday. Photo / AP
Harris talks with her attorney during her court appearance on Wednesday. Photo / AP

Harris has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder and child endangerment resulting in death. She was arrested in August 2017 after medics found 4-month-old Sterling Koehn dead in the swing in a dark, sweltering bedroom.

An autopsy shows he died of malnutrition, dehydration and an E. coli infection caused by being left in a maggot-infested diaper for up to two weeks.

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The boy's father, Zachary Koehn, already has been sentenced to life in prison.

At the time of Koehn's sentencing in December last year, Assistant Attorney General Denise Timmins said: "Every action the defendant chose to do in that apartment that did not involve caring for [Sterling] was a choice, an act, which lead to (Sterling's) death.

"Choosing to let your child slowly die a painful death is no less unlawful than beating your child's head against a wall until the child dies."

During Koehn's trial the court had heard devastating testimony about how the boy's maggot-infested body was found after he died of extreme "diaper rash" at the trial for murder.

Sterling had been in the same diaper for nine to 14 days when his corpse was found in the swing August 30, 2017, at his parents' apartment.

An autopsy found the infant was underweight at 3kg. It also uncovered maggots on the child's skin and clothes, indicating he hadn't been washed, changed or removed from the swing in more than a week.

The medical examiner ruled the child's death a homicide by failure to provide critical care.

Zachary Koehn and Cheyanne Harris. Photo / via Facebook
Zachary Koehn and Cheyanne Harris. Photo / via Facebook
This undated booking photo provided by the Chickasaw County Sheriff's Office in New Hampton, Iowa, shows Cheyanne Harris. Photo / AP
This undated booking photo provided by the Chickasaw County Sheriff's Office in New Hampton, Iowa, shows Cheyanne Harris. Photo / AP
An autopsy shows Sterling died of malnutrition, dehydration and an E. coli infection caused by being left in a maggot-infested diaper for up to two weeks. Photo / via Facebook
An autopsy shows Sterling died of malnutrition, dehydration and an E. coli infection caused by being left in a maggot-infested diaper for up to two weeks. Photo / via Facebook

Koehn's attorney had said the baby's death was a tragedy, but not a crime.

The prosecution denied the defense's claims, saying Koehn was an experienced parent.

The prosecution's lawyer noted that Koehn's 2-year-old daughter was also in the apartment and was healthy, and that Koehn had money to buy food and baby supplies. He stated Koehn was a drug user.

The trial continues.

- AP