Child witness in Hiawatha toddler's death case will get competency hearing

Judge will help determine if 8-year-old is competent to testify

A judge will conduct a competency hearing of an 8-year-old child witness the state plans to call in a trial of two people accused in a toddler's death in 2010.

Sixth Judicial District Judge Marsha Beckelman granted the motion Friday filed by Amy Jo Parmer, charged with first-degree murder and child endangerment resulting in death, to determine if the 8-year-old is competent to testify at trial.

Parmer, 27, of Hiawatha, and Zyriah Schlitter, 24, of Cedar Rapids, also charged with first-degree murder and child endangerment resulting in death, are accused in the death of 17-month-old Kamryn Schlitter. Kamryn died of head trauma March 28, 2010.

According to the criminal complaint, Parmer and Schlitter either individually or jointly inflicted the fatal injuries to the victim, knowingly permitted the other co-defendant to abuse the victim and/or failed to protect the child from the other co-defendant.

Tyler Johnston, Parmer's attorney, said the statements the child made regarding Kamryn Schlitter were made when the child was 5 years old, and it's unknown what his recollection is now. Johnston also said the defense wanted to do what was in the best interest of the child to lessen any trauma of testifying or going through a deposition.

First Assistant Linn County Attorney Nick Maybanks said the defense hadn't provided ample or sufficient grounds to question the child's competency, except to point out that he's a child. The state provided a video of an interview with the child conducted by Child Protective Services, and the child was able to answer questions that were asked.

Beckelman said she will hold the competency hearing in chambers, without parents, and she will question the child. She will allow the attorneys to submit any questions to her that they have in an attempt to minimize stress and pressure on the child.

A date for the hearing hasn't yet been set.

Parmer and Schlitter will be tried together May 29.

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