CEDAR RAPIDS - Kamryn Schlitter at 17-months-old was at the beginning of her life but it ended after enduring a three week “nightmare.”
“Her life may be over but her story is not,” First Assistant Linn County Attorney Nick Maybanks said Wednesday during his closing argument. “You (jurors) have the chance to write the final lines… to write justice into her story.”
Maybanks said Kamryn's father Zyriah Schlitter changed his daughter’s life when she went to stay with him the month of March in 2010. Her life was turned “upside down” and she endured severe physical abuse, bruising all over her body and two severe head injuries caused by shaking or slamming, that led to her death.
“He (Schlitter) didn’t do this,” Tom Gaul, Schlitter’s attorney said in his closing. “That’s the legal defense.”
Schlitter left Kamryn with ex-girlfriend Amy Parmer March 21, 2010, waving good-bye to her for the last time, Gaul said. Kamryn had two head trauma injuries and the one that killed her, according to doctors, happened within minutes to six hours before the 911 call.
“If the injury happened 10 or 15 minutes before, it couldn’t be Zyriah,” Gaul said. “If you’re not sure on the timing of the injury, then you have a reasonable doubt that he didn’t inflict the head trauma.”
Schlitter, 25, of Cedar Rapids, is charged with first-degree murder and child endangerment resulting in death. He is accused of killing Kamryn who died of blunt force head trauma March 28, 2010.
Amy Parmer, 29, of Hiawatha, Schlitter’s ex-girlfriend, is also charged with first-degree murder and child endangerment resulting in death. Her trial is Jan. 14.
Closing arguments wrapped up late Tuesday and the jury deliberated about 30 minutes before going home for the day. They will resume 9 a.m. Wednesday unless the Linn County Courthouse is closed due to the predicted snow storm.
Gazette Reporter Trish Mehaffey will cover the verdict live from the courtroom.
Maybanks said Schlitter would become frustrated with Kamryn because she needed care. When she got an ear infection, she wasn’t getting better. And she was an interference in his life with his girlfriend Amy Parmer and Parmer considered her a burden and a “brat.”
Schlitter was never the primary care giver when he lived with Kamryn and her mother Nicole King, Maybanks said. Jeri King, Nicole’s mother, testified about Schlitter getting frustrated with Kamryn. Jeri King said one time something happened with Kamryn and Schlitter got upset and picked her up too hard and left marks on her.
In another incident, Schlitter got upset with Kamryn, cursing and throwing a blanket at her and then walked out, Maybanks said.
Maybanks said Schlitter wouldn’t admit he saw any bruises on Kamryn, who had bruises on top of bruises, but daycare employees saw them March 8 and then more bruising on March 16, and Schlitter said Kamryn liked to beat herself up.
“Schlitter’s story changed throughout the investigation and trial,” Maybanks said.
Maybanks said the malice aforethought, an element of first-degree murder, comes into play because Kamryn suffered ongoing abuse. She had physical injuries, as well as nightmares and most of what she learned to say, she forgot and wasn’t eating. She was displaying symptoms of head trauma before she was left with Parmer March 21, and her father never took her back to the doctor and cancelled her appointment March 19.
Kamryn’s injuries happened when Schlitter was caring for her without the help of his grandparents. He stayed with Parmer every weekend. The abuse happened when they were together and it became a “culture of abuse. They are equally responsible for her abuse.”
Gaul said Nicole King, Kamryn’s mother, testified Schlitter was a good father but she didn’t trust Parmer. King thought Parmer hurt Kamyrn. She referred to Parmer as a “devil” on the stand.
Schlitter’s and King’s parents and grandparents helped take care of Kamryn and they said Schlitter was a good father.
Gaul said the state wants to gloss over the fact that Schlitter did take Kamryn to the doctor to get her shots updated before she started daycare and when she had pink eye and an ear infection. He did everything the doctor and nurse prescribed. He kept calling with concern over her fever and sleepiness. He thought it was side effects from medicine.
Gaul said all the injuries can be traced back to Parmer, when she kept Kamryn every Sunday night while Schlitter went to a financial class. Schlitter relied on someone he loved. He was wrong about Parmer but didn’t learn that until later.
Parmer confessed to two people that she may have killed a child – Kamryn. She wasn’t remorseful when she made the statement to her friend Tim Sprous. She was concerned about herself and losing her children.
“That’s what she’s like,” Gaul said. “Amy Parmer can manipulate men. She’s capable of deceit.”
Gaul said the state hasn’t met its burden of proof. It was non-accidental trauma but the prosecutor can’t say when it happened and who inflicted the injuries.
Maybanks on rebuttal said cases are proven by evidence, “not simple proclamations. Man blinded by love lets girlfriend hurt Kamryn. It’s not that simple. Three Sundays (with Parmer) don’t explain what happened to Kamryn.”
King on the stand identified Schlitter as the abuser, Maybanks said. Schlitter called King before she testified and asked her to make him “look good.”
The defense suggested the jurors should disregard the medical testimony because it’s difficult to understand. The doctors can’t give a time down to the minute on injuries but they said she suffered two head injuries, which contributed to her death. One happened about a week before and the recent one happened within six hours of the 911 call.
“It took about a minute for me to tell you that and it’s not difficult to understand,” Maybanks said.