Doctor says Kamryn Schlitter's head injury occured within hours of 911 call

MRI taken in 2010 showed brain had massive stroke, doctor testifies

Trish Mehaffey
Published: August 28 2013 | 4:29 pm - Updated: 28 March 2014 | 7:42 pm in
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Toddler Kamryn Schlitter had acute brain hemorrhaging and massive swelling, which indicated the head injury that caused her death, was inflicted within hours to days of when a 911 call was made March 21, 2010, a doctor testified Wednesday.

Dr. Michael D’Alessandro, University of Iowa professor of radiology and physician with the university’s Children’s Hospital, said he thought the non-accidental injury, either a shaking or slamming incident, occurred closer to hours than days.

“There’s a tremendous amount of blood and swelling (of the brain),” he said. “It would be hard to have this much swelling and blood in your brain for very long.”

Amy Parmer, 29, of Hiawatha, who is charged with first-degree murder and child endangerment resulting in death, was babysitting 17-month-old Kamryn that night and made the 911 call. She is accused of inflicting physical abuse of Kamryn, along with Kamryn’s father and her ex-boyfriend Zyriah Schlitter. Kamryn died from blunt force head injuries March 28, 2010.

Zyriah Schlitter, 25, of Cedar Rapids, was convicted of involuntary manslaughter and child endangerment resulting in death for his involvement last December. He is serving 50 years in prison.

The prosecution continues its case 9 a.m. Thursday in Linn County District Court. More medical experts will testify the rest of the week. Follow Gazette Reporter Trish Mehaffey’s live coverage from the courtroom.

D’Alessandro said the MRI taken March 22, 2010 showed Kamryn’s brain suffered a massive stroke, which means an interruption of blood flow to the brain. The stroke could have been the result of a shaking or a slamming injury.

Kamryn had no other fractures to her body, spine or neck, which isn’t uncommon for non-accidental trauma, D’Alessandro said.

D’Alessandro said he ruled out any medical cause for the bleeding and swelling of Kamryn’s brain. Everything was ruled out except a non-accidental trauma.

“It could have been a slamming against a hard or soft surface, a shaking, or a combination of both,” D’Alessandro said.

Tyler Johnston, Parmer’s attorney, on cross questioned D’Alessandro’s estimate of hours old, citing another doctor’s findings, who’s not testifying in this case. This doctor said the injury could be two to three days old.

D’Alessandro said there was evidence on the MRI that there was also an older brain injury that could be 24 hours to three days old but the MRI, taken 12 hours after Kamryn was at the hospital and it was taken after she had surgery, which removed most of the blood evidence. The CT taken when she arrived March 21, 2010 showed the injury to be more recent – “minutes to hours to days old.”

In making his opinion, D’Alessandro said he also considered a video of Kamryn taken the day before the 911 call was made and she was active, talking and playing. He said the injury occurred after that video was taken.

“I don’t believe a child with the injury I saw on the CT would have looked and acted like Kamryn did in that video,” he said.

Dr. Susannah Longmuir, a pediatric ophthalmologist with UI Hospitals and Clinics, testified about Kamryn’s eyes, which had retinal hemorrhaging in both eyes. There were also retinal folds throughout, which indicated a force or acceleration-deceleration injury.

Longmuir said there is no other explanation for the layers of folding besides non-accidental trauma.

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