CEDAR RAPIDS — Zyriah Schlitter became emotional as he took the witness stand Monday, talking about his daughter, the “bundle of joy” whom he “loved dearly.”
A tearful Schlitter said he didn’t know what had happened to 17-month-old Kamryn on March 21, 2010, when he first saw her hooked up to tubes and a breathing machine at an Iowa City hospital.
Under cross examination by First Assistant Linn County Attorney Nick Maybanks, Schlitter denied that he or anyone else had harmed the toddler.
“But you knew when Kamryn got to University of Iowa Hospitals that this wasn’t an accident?” Maybanks asked. “That this was child abuse … you figured that out, didn’t you?”
“Not entirely, no,” Schlitter said.
Maybanks asked him whether doctors had said the girl’s injuries had been inflicted through child abuse.
“Didn’t mean I believed them,” Schlitter said.
Schlitter, 25, is being tried on charges of first-degree murder and child endangerment resulting in death. He’ll continue his testimony at 9 a.m. today in Linn County District Court, and closing arguments could start later in the day.
Gazette reporter Trish Mehaffey is providing live coverage from the courtroom at www.TheGazette.com, where viewers can ask questions and provide comments.
Amy Jo Parmer, 29, of Hiawatha, is set for trial Jan. 14 on the same charges as Schlitter, her former boyfriend. Each defendant is accused of either causing the toddler’s death or allowing the other person to do so.
But during his testimony Monday, Schlitter didn’t point the finger at Parmer, saying there was no proof that she’d done anything wrong. She was good with her own children, he said, and he’d never imagined her hurting Kamryn.
He told Maybanks he wasn’t protecting Parmer — he just didn’t have any proof that she’d injured the girl.
“To an outside observer, wouldn’t it look like you knew what she had done and she knew what you did?” Maybanks said.
“I suppose so,” Schlitter replied.
Schlitter said he didn’t notice any bruising on Kamryn until workers from the state Department of Human Services contacted him. He said she’d recently been seen by medical providers for an ear infection, and neither they nor the workers at Kamryn’s day care said anything to him about any bruises.
Tom Gaul, Schlitter’s attorney, asked whether the DHS had ever expressed concern about child abuse or prevented him from picking Kamryn up from day care after a complaint was made, and Schlitter said no.
Maybanks showed photos of Kamryn where she had a bruise underneath her eye or a black eye, but Schlitter said, “I can hardly see it.”