Amy Parmer Convicted in Toddler's Death, Faces Up to 55 Years in Prison
By Trish Mehaffey, Reporter
CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa - After more than four days of deliberations, a jury found a Hiawatha woman guilty Monday in the death of toddler Kamryn Schlitter, who died before she turned 18-months-old as a result of blunt force head injuries March 28, 2010.
"Our family is relieved that justice has finally come for Kamryn, on what would have been her 5th birthday," Jeri King said after a jury convicted Amy Parmer, 29, in the toddler's death. "We would like to thank everyone involved with the heroic efforts given on Kamryn's behalf, including first responders, medical staff, investigators, the Linn County Attorney's Office and the jury. As a family, we can finally begin the healing process together."
Parmer was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter and child endangerment resulting in death. She faces up to five years in prison on the manslaughter charge and up to 50 years on the child endangerment. Neither charge has a mandatory minimum to serve before being eligible for parole. Parmer was originally charged with first-degree murder and the child endangerment charge.
Parmer cried as her attorneys Tyler Johnston and Megan Heneke hugged her after the jury was dismissed from the courtroom.
Family members of Parmer's and Kamryn's cried and remained relatively quiet during the verdict, except for one outburst as King started to leave the courtroom. A family member of Kamryn's father Zyriah Schlitter made a comment to King, blaming her in some way for Kamryn's death but sheriff's deputies intervened and the grandmother was able to leave without further incident.
Parmer's trial started Aug. 19 and closing arguments wrapped up Sept. 16, following three days of jury selection and about three weeks of testimony.
According to the prosecution's theory, Parmer, along with ex-boyfriend, Zyriah Schlitter, Kamryn's father, 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.
First Assistant Linn County Attorney Nick Maybanks said he wanted to thank the jury for their commitment and sacrifice for more than four weeks of their lives.
"I know it was a difficult decision for the jury," Maybanks said after the verdict. "When you take on a case like this, you know it will be challenging. This is why it took so many months to complete the investigation and gather the evidence to convict both people involved."
Maybanks said this was a tough case because it involved the death of a child and in the end, he has a sense of appreciation for his own life, as one of young daughter's was tugging at his arm waiting for him to take her to the park. Something he hasn't had much time for since this trial began, he said.
Johnston didn't reply to an email asking for a comment Monday.
During the trial, Parmer took the stand and maintained her innocence. She also never implicated Zyriah Schlitter, except to say she saw him a few times get frustrated with his daughter and may have handled her roughly. Kamryn was in Parmer's care when she became unresponsive and began posturing March 21, 2010. Parmer is the one who called 911 that night.
Several medical doctors who treated Kamryn testified over a course of two weeks, 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.
The timing of the injuries was crucial to both sides because the prosecution wanted to show Parmer was responsible for the recent fatal injury and the defense wanted to show that injury could have been inflicted before March 21, when Parmer babysat the toddler.
Doctors also testified about Kamryn's facial, head and body bruises, which were in different stages of healing and were consistent with child abuse.
Defense medical experts disputed the state's witnesses, claiming Kamryn only suffered one head injury and it could have occurred within 24-48 hours of when Kamryn was brought into the hospital.
Two people also testified during the trial that Parmer told them she hurt or killed Kamryn. A former boyfriend/co-worker of Parmer's, Tim Sprous, said Parmer told him she "took the life of an 18-month-old." Heather Meyers, Parmer's friend and co-worker, said Parmer told her "I might have killed a kid."
Parmer's defense claimed Zyriah Schlitter inflicted the injuries and Parmer only babysat the toddler while the two were together.