Granted new trial in daughter's death, Cedar Rapids man likely to be released

Prosecutor pledges to retry Zyriah Schlitter, who was serving 50-year-sentence

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CEDAR RAPIDS — A Cedar Rapids man was granted a new trial after being convicted in the child abuse death of his 18-month-old daughter will likely be released on bail until his retrial.

Sixth Judicial District Judge Fae Hoover-Grinde set a $100,000 bail Wednesday at a hearing for Zyriah Schlitter.

Schlitter, convicted in 2012 of child endangerment causing death and involuntary manslaughter, will go back to the Iowa State Penitentiary in Fort Madison, where he was serving a 50-year sentence. He likely will be released on bond after 10 percent of the bail is paid with the Linn County clerk’s office.

An Iowa Supreme Court decision in July granted a new trial for Schlitter, 29, based on his attorney’s error of not asking the trial judge for an acquittal on one of the four theories put to the jury about the abuse that led to the death of Kamryn Schlitter in 2010.

Testimony showed Kamryn died from severe head injuries caused by shaking or slamming.

First Assistant Linn County Attorney Nick Maybanks and the Iowa Attorney General’s Office believe Schlitter’s involuntary manslaughter conviction was affirmed by the state Supreme Court, although the opinion was confusing.

Maybanks said only the conviction of child endangerment causing death was reversed.

Shellie Kniepfer, the state appellate defense attorney who argued for Schlitter, said she also thought the manslaughter conviction stands.

But during Wednesday’s hearing, Bill Kutmus of West Des Moines, Schlitter’s new attorney, questioned if the manslaughter conviction stands. He said the ruling made it clear there was “insufficient evidence” to prove Schlitter caused Kamryn’s death and to prove the child endangerment charge.

Hoover-Grinde said she was giving attorneys time to file written arguments on the involuntary manslaughter conviction. She said she will rule on that, and Schlitter’s trial scheduled for Oct. 3 will be reset.

Hoover-Grinde said if the Department of Corrections decides Schlitter has served sufficient time on the involuntary manslaughter charge, he would be released on bail pending the retrial.

Maybanks said after the hearing he will retry Schlitter. He could try Schlitter on the same charge of child endangerment causing death, but would have to leave out the theory that Schlitter was the one who inflicted the fatal blow, causing her death.

In their July opinion, the justices said the prosecution provided sufficient evidence on the other three theories on who physically abused Kamryn and how to prove child endangerment resulting in death.

But they found the prosecution didn’t prove Schlitter inflicted the deadly force necessary to cause the toddler’s injuries, which is one of the theories the state argued for child endangerment.

When Kamryn exhibited her first and second set of bruises, there were numerous others who had cared for her, too, including Schlitter’s then-girlfriend, Amy Parmer, 29, of Hiawatha, day care providers, her mother and several members of Schlitter’s family, the court said.

Schlitter also wasn’t with Kamryn during the two hours leading up to a 911 call before her death, according to testimony. Parmer was taking care of her at the time.

According to testimony, Schlitter and Parmer either individually or jointly inflicted the fatal injuries and knowingly permitted the other to abuse her or failed to protect the child.

Parmer was convicted in 2013 of child endangerment resulting in death and involuntary manslaughter.

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