CEDAR RAPIDS — Zyriah Schlitter will spend up to 55 years in prison for killing his 17-month-old daughter, Kamryn, who died of blunt force head injuries on March 28, 2010.
A jury last night found Schlitter, 25, of Cedar Rapids, guilty of involuntary manslaughter — a less serious offense than the first-degree murder he was originally charged with — and child endangerment resulting in death. The panel deliberated for two days and reached a verdict around 8:30 p.m. Friday after a two-week trial.
Schlitter sat stoic after the judge read the guilty verdict for involuntary manslaughter, which brings a five-year sentence, but he broke down crying when he heard the child endangerment verdict, which carries a 50-year sentence.
Kamryn’s mother, Nicole King, said she was thankful for the verdict after waiting nearly three years to “get part of my daughter’s voice out today.”
First Assistant Linn County Attorney Nick Maybanks thanked the jury but couldn’t say much more because of another pending trial in the case. Schlitter’s former girlfriend Amy Parmer, 29, of Hiawatha, is also charged with first-degree murder and child endangerment resulting in death, and her trial is scheduled for Jan. 14.
“I will say after a case like this I’m going to go home and give my kids big hugs,” Maybanks said.
Schlitter testified this week that he didn’t inflict fatal injuries to the daughter he “loved dearly.” He wasn’t concerned about the bruises on Kamryn, he said, because she was an active toddler and he thought they were just from the normal bumps most children experience.
He said in hindsight he realizes that her vomiting and sleepiness were the result of a head injury, but at the time he thought they were from an ear infection.
“I never suspected child abuse,” Schlitter said.
In the first week of the trial, King testified that she initially thought Parmer was to blame for the abuse. However, she said, after seeing the girl’s injuries in the hospital, she knew Schlitter was responsible.
Medical experts testified last week that Kamryn never would have recovered from the severe head trauma that was caused by being shaken or slammed.
Dr. Marcus Nashelsky — Johnson County’s medical examiner and a pathology professor at University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics — performed the autopsy and testified that Kamryn died of blunt force trauma to the head. He couldn’t identify the specific object that caused the injury, but he said it could have been a person’s hands, or a surface the toddler was swung or pushed into.
He also said she had suffered two separate injuries — one that could have been inflicted weeks earlier, and the other one that happened within six hours of her arrival at the hospital.
Dr. Nasreen Syed, an associate professor of ophthalmology and pathology at UI Hospitals, examined Kamryn’s eyes for the autopsy. She said the multiple retinal hemorrhages were consistent with traumatic injury.
“It would take a violent movement of the head” to cause such injuries, Syed said. “An acceleration and deceleration of the head.”