The mother of 17-month-old Kamryn Schlitter was called to testify about how her daughter’s behavior changed as she became the victim of child abuse while in the custody of her father and his girlfriend, Amy Parmer, who’s on trial for the toddler’s death.
Instead, Nicole King, 24, now living in Arkansas, mostly had to defend her own actions as Parmer’s attorney aggressively questioned her on why she didn’t notice the bruising or injuries and why she didn’t see Kamryn more that last month of her life.
Parmer, 29, of Hiawatha, is charged with first-degree murder and child endangerment resulting in death. She is accused in the death of Kamryn, who died of blunt force head injuries March 28, 2010.
According to the prosecution, Parmer, along with ex-boyfriend Zyriah Schlitter, 26, both inflicted Kamryn’s physical abuse or each knew of the other’s abuse and did nothing to stop it the last month of her life, while Schlitter, Kamryn’s father, had sole custody of the child.
Zyriah Schlitter of Cedar Rapids was convicted of involuntary manslaughter and child endangerment resulting in death last December. He is serving 50 years in prison.
The defense in an opening statement is claiming Schlitter inflicted the injuries that killed his daughter and Parmer “had the unfortunate incident of being in the care of the child when she was already sick and injured.” She was just the babysitter
The prosecution continues its case 9 a.m. Friday. The trial is expected to last three weeks.
Follow Gazette reporter Trish Mehaffey’s live coverage from the courtroom.
King testified she noticed bruising on Kamryn in March 2010 but she didn’t see her every day. King had to move out of her parent’s home when they divorced and she didn’t have a stable place to stay or money to support her daughter, so she asked Schlitter if he would take Kamryn for a month.
King said she had been the primary caregiver for Kamryn. Schlitter would become frustrated with her and angry when she wouldn’t listen to him or when she would cry.
King broke up with Schlitter because he became angry with Kamryn when she wouldn’t stop crying. He rolled up some blankets and threw them in the crib and cursed at her.
“He was looking at Kamryn when he said it,” King said. “I told him to get his (stuff) and get out.”
In previous incidents, Schlitter would yell at Kamryn and he “sat her down hard” when putting her in timeout, King said.
King tried to see Kamryn often during that month but it didn’t always work out. During that month, Kamryn had an ear infection and she noticed bruises on her forehead and cheek during the period of March 8-12.
During a March 17 visit, Kamryn wouldn’t sit by her and she was still sick and taking medication. She remembered seeing plum size bruise on her forehead that wasn’t there March 12.
On March 19, Kamryn screamed and ripped out her hair when they were visiting King’s aunt, King said. Then, her mood calmed down when they were going to leave.
“She was laughing in the car,” King said.
That was the last time she heard that laugh, King said.
King said when she was called to the hospital March 21, when Parmer was babysitting her while Schlitter attended a financial class, Kamryn wasn’t breathing.
“She was covered in bruises,” King said tearing up. “Everything was swollen. Her lips were swollen….cut up. She was deaf and blind.”
King said she hadn’t seen those injuries before.
Tyler Johnston, Parmer’s attorney, on cross started grilling King on why she let her child go back to Schlitter after seeing all the brusies and knowing he had anger issues.
“You said Kamryn was behaving in an alarming way,” Johnston said.
King said she was but she just thought she was sick. She didn’t think Schlitter would hurt his daughter.
Johnston said several times that while King wasn’t around, Parmer was there taking care of Kamryn.
King said she didn’t know Parmer was caring for her child. She thought Kamryn stayed at a church daycare when Schlitter was attending financial meetings every Sunday.
Johnston also kept pushing King about what when she last saw Kamryn, whether it was the day before Kamryn was taken to the hospital.
King repeatedly said she didn’t know. She may have told the police the wrong date of the week. She was under stress. They questioned her March 21, while Kamryn was having the first of two brain surgeries in an attempt to save her life.