Father once convicted of daughter's murder goes free - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Father once convicted of daughter's murder goes free

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A local man, once convicted in the death of his 18-month-old daughter, avoided more jail time Friday after serving just three and half years in prison.

Zyriah Schlitter was sentenced to 50 years in prison back in 2012, but his sentence was overturned by the Iowa Supreme Court last year. 

In 2016, the Iowa Supreme Court overturned the Child Endangerment Resulting in Death conviction, but upheld Schlitter's Involuntary Manslaughter charge that carries a punishment of up to five years in prison.

Schlitter's daughter, Kamryn, died in March of 2010 from injuries sustained from shaking and/or other abuse.

In a home video, Kamryn can be seen laughing and playing, looking like any other happy 18-month-old baby.  According to prosecutors in her father's 2012 court case, the video was taken just one day before she suffered serious head injuries that eventually took her life.

"Explained to me that only 30% of her brain was active," said Schlitter when he took the stand in his own defense. 

Schlitter spoke at length about the days he spent at the hospital with his daughter.

"We discussed it and decided it would be best to let her go," said Schlitter.

Despite the tears during his testimony, the state argued Schlitter and his ex-girlfriend, Amy Parmer, abused Kamryn throughout the three weeks leading up to the head injury that killed her.

"He was Kamryn's dad. Kamryn was supposed to feel safe in her dad's arms. Dads are supposed to protect little girls from the dangers of the world, not expose them to it," said Prosecutor Nick Maybanks during his closing statement.

But the defense argued the state never proved Schlitter laid a hand on his daughter, something the Iowa Supreme Court has now agreed with. 

Friday, Maybanks made a statement at the plea hearing explaining why the Linn County Attorney's Office chose to accept the plea deal rather than re-try Schlitter.

It read in part:

We have great respect for our legal system and for the Iowa Supreme Court and as we must do, we have accepted their decision reversing the jury’s verdict finding Mr. Schlitter guilty of Child Endangerment Resulting in Death. We are gratified that the Involuntary Manslaughter conviction was upheld and we are thankful to Judge Hoover-Grinde for reaffirming that finding. . .

Facts don’t change through the passage of time. The truth will always be the truth. We cannot go forward in good conscience and argue a different theory than what led us to file these criminal charges and what we earnestly believe and still believe that the evidence supports. Without reciting their thoughtful decision verbatim, although the Iowa Supreme Court did find there was sufficient evidence supporting that Mr. Schlitter was guilty of Child Endangerment Resulting in Death based upon other theories, since they did not find sufficient evidence that he was a direct perpetrator of abuse, they ruled that the State must retry him. If anyone is interested in further explanation of their decision, we would encourage them to read the decision in full.

As part of the plea deal, the judge gave Schlitter a lengthy parole, rather than the maximum three-and-a-half months of prison time she could have given him. The judge saying she felt the long parole would be more effective.

Schlitter has been out of prison since November 2016, following the Iowa Supreme Court decision.

Schlitter's ex-girlfriend, Amy Parmer, was also sentenced to 50 years in the girl's death.  She had originally been charged with First Degree Murder, but was found guilty of lesser charges of Involuntary Manslaughter and Child Endangerment Resulting in Death.

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