A judge ruled this week that statements made to investigators by a man accused in the death of his 17-month-old toddler will be allowed at his murder trial, which starts next week in Linn County District Court.
Zyriah Schlitter, 25, of Cedar Rapids, filed a motion to suppress statements he made voluntarily to investigators while his daughter Kamryn Schlitter was in the hospital after suffering a severe head trauma in 2010. Schlitter claimed the investigators used impermissible interrogation techniques by offering leniency if he cooperated. He also claimed the interrogations were illegal because he wasn’t informed of his Miranda rights and one interview wasn’t audio-recorded.
Schlitter agreed to speak with investigators in three interviews before he was arrested and charged. In all three interviews, Schlitter couldn’t explain Kamryn’s injuries of brain hemorrhaging and the bruising.
During one interview, Division of Criminal Investigation Special Agent Darrell Simmons told Schlitter shaking or a slam would have caused the kind of trauma Kamryn suffered, according to the medical reports, but Schlitter offered no explanation for the injuries.
Schlitter never told Simmons he didn’t want to continue the interview and never asked for a lawyer. Schlitter did ask once if he needed a lawyer, but Simmons didn’t answer him and continued questioning him. Simmons said Schlitter continued to answer and repeatedly denied hurting Kamryn.
Sixth Judicial District Judge Marsha Beckelman in her ruling said investigators didn’t violate his Miranda rights because he wasn’t in custody during any of the interviews and was free to leave and to stop the questioning at any time. The interviews at the hospital were conducted in unlocked public waiting rooms. Schlitter also volunteered to come to the Hiawatha Police Department for some of the interviews, wasn’t deprived of his right to have an attorney and was free to leave at any time.
Beckelman also denied the argument regarding the failure to audio record one of the interviews, because the Iowa Supreme Court hasn’t adopted a ruling requiring electronic recording.
Schlitter is charged with first-degree murder and child endangerment in the death of Kamryn, who died from severe head trauma March 28, 2010. Schlitter’s ex-girlfriend, Amy Jo Parmer, 29, of Hiawatha, is also charged in the case.
His trial begins Dec. 3, and is expected to last more than two weeks.
Parmer, also charged with first-degree murder and child endangerment in Kamryn’s death, will be tried separately. Parmer’s trial is set for Jan. 14, 2013.