Details of interview with Cedar Rapids man accused of killing toddler revealed during hearing

Defense wants parts of police interviews inadmissable

Trish Mehaffey
Published: October 26 2012 | 1:39 pm - Updated: 1 April 2014 | 2:34 am in
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Two investigators testified in court Friday that Zyriah Schlitter was arrested after an interview in 2011 following a polygraph test and his failure to explain how his 17-month-old daughter suffered a subdural hematoma on the left side of her head and severe bruising on her neck, chin, underarms and her chest.

Schlitter's attorney has filed a motion to suppress portions of police interviews because there was no audio recording of one interview and the other occurred after a polygraph test, which can't be used in his trial, set for Dec. 3 in Linn County District Court. Few details of his interviews and nothing regarding the polygraph were made public in the hearing. The details of the interviews were submitted to the judge and the state will request for those to be sealed until trial.

Schlitter, 25, of Cedar Rapids, and his ex-girlfriend Amy Jo Parmer, 29, of Hiawatha, are both charged with first-degree murder and child endangerment in the death of Schlitter's 17-month-old daughter Kamryn Schlitter. Kamryn died of head trauma March 28, 2010.

Sixth Judicial District Judge Marsha Beckelman didn't make a ruling after the hearing. She will provide a written ruling later.

Schlitter's attorney also has made a motion to prevent text messages between himself and Parmer three days after Kamryn's death from being used by the state in its case at trial. The hearing ran long Friday and the judge decided to take up that motion at the pre-trial set in November.

Parmer also has asked the court to suppress those text messages but the judge hasn't ruled in that case.

The texts consist of intimate or sexual messages between Schlitter and Parmer three days after Kamryn died in 2010, according to an earlier hearing for Parmer.

First Assistant Linn County Attorney Nick Maybanks said the motion regarding the texts is sealed.

During Friday's hearing, Division of Criminal Investigation Special Agent Darrell Simmons testified Schlitter agreed to speak with him and another investigator in three interviews before he was arrested or charged.

Schlitter in a March 30, 2010 interview couldn't explain how Kamryn suffered her severe injuries, Simmons said. Doctors had told investigators Kamryn's injuries of brain hemorrhaging and the bruising were the result of abuse. A shaking or slam would have caused the kind of trauma Kamryn suffered according to the medical reports, he said.

Schlitter's attorney, Tom Gaul, suggested his client asked four times for investigators to stop and then asked if he needed a lawyer. Simmons said Schlitter hadn't been arrested and was voluntarily speaking with law enforcement.

Simmons said Schlitter never said he didn't want to continue the interview and never asked for a lawyer. Simmons said Schlitter did ask him if he needed a lawyer, but Simmons didn't answer him and continued questioning him. He said Schlitter continued to answer.

During the interviews, Schlitter repeatedly denied  hurting Kamryn, even after Simmons suggested since he was the primary caregiver he was likely the abuser because he would have to know what happened to his daughter. He asked Schlitter if he ever became frustrated with Kamryn and possibly bumped her head on the wall or shook her. Schlitter denied it. He only said he could have possibly caused the bruising under her arms by picking her up, but said she never complained that he had hurt her.

During the same interview, Simmons asked Schlitter to take a polygraph because they didn't believe him and it might help eliminate him as a suspect. Schlitter said he wanted to, but he wanted to get advice from his attorney. Simmons let Schlitter call his attorney, but she wasn't available.

Schlitter then decided not to take the polygraph and left after answering a few more questions.

On June 9, 2011 Schlitter contacted Simmons, telling him he was wanted to talk, and that he had information that Parmer may have be responsible for Kamryn's injuries. Simmons said Schlitter never explained that or accused Parmer of being involved during this interview. Schlitter again denied hurting Kamryn or knowing about anyone who could have harmed her.

He did take the polygraph during the interview, but Simmons didn't testify about those results.

Simmons said Schlitter was arrested and charged June 21, 2011 after discussing the case with the county attorney and Hiawatha police.

Schlitter's next court appearance is his pre-trial conference set Nov. 21. Parmer's trial is set to begin Jan. 14, 2013.

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