New trial motion denied for Amy Parmer in toddler's 2010 death

Prosecution wasn't inconsistent, witnesses were similar, judge says in ruling

Trish Mehaffey
Published: December 4 2013 | 10:10 pm - Updated: 29 March 2014 | 12:28 am in
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A judge denied a new trial Wednesday for Amy Parmer, who was convicted in the 2010 death of 17-month-old Kamryn Schlitter.

Parmer, 29, of Hiawatha, was found guilty in September of child endangerment resulting in death and involuntary manslaughter following a four and half week trial. The state argued Parmer, along with Kamryn's father Zyriah Schlitter, inflicted the physical abuse of Kamryn or each knew of the abuse and did nothing to stop it in the last month of her life when her father had sole custody of her. Kamryn died from blunt force head injuries March 28, 2010.

Schlitter, 26, of Cedar Rapids, was convicted in December 2012 of involuntary manslaughter and child endangerment resulting in death and is serving 50 years in prison.

Parmer's defense attorneys argued last month for a new trial on several grounds, which included the child endangerment charge was "vague" and "ambiguous," the prosecution's theory wasn't consistent and it never proved Parmer did anything to harm the child, and there was juror misconduct.

Sixth Judicial District Judge Marsha Beckelman said in her ruling Parmer's argument in regards to the child endangerment charge asks the court to rewrite the child endangerment statute, which "is a function of the legislature, not the court."

Beckelman said the prosecution wasn't inconsistent with its theory used in the Schlitter case. Both opening statements were "extremely" similar, many of the witnesses called in Schlitter's case were the same for Parmer's and testimony offered in Parmer was almost identical to what was offered in Schlitter's trial.

Parmer's argument in regards to juror misconduct is based upon a juror who claimed multiple jurors considered and based their verdict on the arrest and charge as evidence of guilt.

Beckelman in her ruling said according to law, a jury can't impeach it's own verdict and a juror may not state what influenced the jury in reaching its verdict. The jury was instructed that trial information about the charge isn't evidence.

"Jurors are given the credit of honest purpose to dispose of questions submitted to them upon the evidence under the instructions given by the court," Beckelman said. "It is assumed the jury at all times heeded and complied with the instructions so given." She added the juror who made the claims stated on the record that this was her guilty verdict when polled, so the court disregards her statements.

Parmer faces up to 55 years in prison.

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