Woman Sentenced to 50 Years in Prison for Death of 17-month-old

By Trish Mehaffey, Reporter

Amy Jo Parmer listens to victim impact statements during her sentence hearing at the Linn county Courthouse on Friday, Dec. 13, 2013, in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Parmer was sentenced to up to 50 years in prison, for the death of 17-month-old Kamryn Schlitter. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette-KCRG)


By Aaron Hepker

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa - A 50-year prison sentence for Amy Parmer seemed like it might provide closure and peace for the family of 17-month-old Kamryn Schlitter who died in 2010 from child abuse injuries, but emotions remained raw Friday in the courtroom as family members told her they couldn't forgive her for taking their "sweet angel."

Nicole King, who now lives in Arkansas, Kamryn's mother, told Parmer in a victim's impact statement that she blamed her for Kamryn's death and warned Parmer that her own children would grow up and learn the truth some day.

"Everybody is losing someone through this," Nicole King angrily said as she looked at Parmer. "I will be at every parole (hearing) fighting to keep you in prison and at Zyriah's fighting to free him long before you."

Nicole King said she knew Zyriah Schlitter, Kamryn's father who was also convicted in this case, wasn't a "killer," only guilty of "not knowing how to clean up his messes."

Jeri King, Nicole's mother and Kamryn's grandmother, who cried at times throughout her statement, said it was "overwhelming and unbelievable" that she had to write a victim's impact statement for her granddaughter's murder.

"A mother, grandmother and their families should never be put in a position where they must grieve their babies, especially when the grief is caused by vicious acts of violence," Jeri King, who now lives in Arkansas, said.

Jeri King said she will never forget Kamryn's smile and her laughter which was "contagious." She closes her eyes and still hears her "silly, little giggling echoing through my head."

Parmer, 29, of Hiawatha, who cried at times throughout the hearing, declined to say anything before the judge sentenced her to 50 years in prison for involvement in the death of Kamryn, who died of blunt force head injuries March 28, 2010. Parmer was convicted in September of involuntary manslaughter and child endangerment resulting in death following a four week trial.

There is no mandatory sentence on either charge so Parmer could serve only two years or up to 50 years before being paroled.

Kim Schlitter, Kamryn's grandfather and Zyriah Schlitter's father, was the only family member who said he forgave Parmer. He said it had been a struggle for three years but he knows he must to free his own soul and move on with his life.

"It has hurt my family, the Niki King family, and I assume the Parmer family is also hurting," Kim Schlitter said in his victim's impact statement. "I miss Kamryn so much it hurts every day and part of me died with Kamryn March 28, 2010."

Kim Schlitter said he knows his granddaughter would want them all to be happy and go on with their lives.

Emilee Bennett, Kamryn's cousin, read a poem she wrote after Kamryn's death as her impact statement. The poem tried to make sense of why the "sweet angel" had to die.

"Fly home sweet angel. Fly, fly, fly," Emilee said.

Denise Bennett, Kamryn's aunt wearing a shirt with Kamryn's picture on it, said in her statement that she remembered the day Kamryn was born.

"She won our hearts....we loved and cherished her," Denise Bennett said.

She also remembered seeing Kamryn in the hospital when she was on life support and had bruises all over her body and part of her skull had been removed after surgeries.

"May God forgive you because I don't know if I ever will."

Tyler Johnston, Parmer's attorney, went on the defensive after the impact statements, passionately telling the court and the packed courtroom with families from both sides that Parmer was innocent and he would spend the rest of days fighting for her.

Nicole and Jeri King stormed out of the courtroom as Johnston continued to defend Parmer, saying this conviction was a "miscarriage of justice." He said the child endangerment law is vague and this should a "cautionary tale" to any babysitter or someone caring for another's child because they could be held responsible if a child is harmed in their care.

Johnston made this same argument, along with others, in his motion for a new trial, which was denied last week. He also vowed to appealed this conviction.

According to the prosecution's theory, Parmer, along with ex-boyfriend, Zyriah Schlitter, inflicted the physical abuse of Kamryn or each knew of the abuse and did nothing to stop it in the last month of her life, while Schlitter had sole custody of the child.

Zyriah Schlitter, 26, of Cedar Rapids, was convicted last December of involuntary manslaughter and child endangerment resulting in death and is serving 50 years in prison.

Several medical doctors who treated Kamryn testified over a course of two weeks during trial, saying Kamryn would have never recovered from the two severe head injuries that were caused by a shaking or slamming. They said one injury was older and the other which likely caused her death was recent, occurring within hours or days of the 911 call Parmer made that night.
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