Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Lawmakers Push for Mandatory Minimums in child deaths after custodial dad kills little girl (Cedar Rapids, Iowa)

Another case we've followed over the years. Dad is identified as ZYRIAH SCHLITTER.

See the Killer Dads and Custody list for Iowa.


Lawmakers Push for Mandatory Minimums in Child Deaths

By Steffi Lee |Monday, January 18th 2016

Cedar Rapids, IA — (CBS2/FOX28) - Jeri King says not a day goes by where she doesn't remember her granddaughter, Kamryn Schlitter.

"I refuse to believe her death would be in vain," King said.

King lives in Arkansas now, but the Iowa native says the sentencing system of her home state still affects her hundreds of miles away.

In Iowa, depending on the ruling of a parole board, those convicted of child endangerment resulting in death may not have to serve the maximum 50 years in prison.

"The reality is, short of a first-degree murder conviction in the state of Iowa, everybody gets out of jail at some point in time," First. Asst. Linn County Attorney Nick Maybanks said.

Maybanks was the lead prosecutor in Kamryn's case. She died from blunt force head injuries and months of child abuse in 2010. A jury convicted her father, Zyriah Schlitter, and his ex-girlfriend, Amy Parmer, of involuntary manslaughter and child endangerment resulting in a death.

"Once we do our job here in the courthouse and we obtain convictions against the individuals, what happens to them afterwards is really out of our hands," Maybanks said.

Maybanks says that's haunting to the prosecutors and the families involved in the heartbreak.

King says year after year, she's received letters in the mail from the Iowa Board of Parole, causing her entire family to relive the nightmare.

Under state law, both Schlitter and Parmer were immediately eligible for parole as soon as they stepped foot in prison.

"Our heart skips a beat and we hold our breath until we open it up and see the word 'deny' in there," King said.

Other families across the state experience the same worries. That's what sparked Rep. Dave Dawson (D-Sioux City) and Rep. Ken Rizer (R-Marion) to draft a bill requiring a minimum sentence for anyone serving a sentence for a conviction of child endangerment resulting in a death. It would deny parole or work release until the person serves at least 70 percent, or 35 years, of the maximum sentence of 50.

Dawson had a constituent voice their family's concerns, which is how he approached Rizer about putting together this bill. Rizer hopes the bipartisan effort will help it gain traction across the state.

"I was kind of surprised to find out that here in the state of Iowa, if a child is killed by shaking, that the person convicted would be eligible for parole immediately," Rizer said.

Rizer says that's an injustice. King says it takes away from the reason why those convicted enter prison in the first place.

"To me, a prison sentence has lost its value and reason when it becomes more about an incentive to be good while you're in prison, than it does punishment or rehabilitation," King said.

King says nothing will ever take away her family's pain, but not having to worry annually, will give them some closure.

"Peace of heart, for future families that will have to face this, unfortunately," she said.

Rizer and Dawson said once the bill is filed, they will work to get it to Governor Terry Branstad's desk.