ABILENE, Texas - Taylor County District Attorney James Eidson won't be prosecuting the Abilene mother arrested in August 2012 in connection to her toddler's death.
Tiffany Klapheke's trial is set for Jan. 27. Eidson told KTXS he recently underwent surgery and, for reasons associated with the surgery, will not be able to participate in the Klapheke case.
Klapheke, 23, is charged with first degree felony injury to a child. Her 22-month-old daughter, Tamryn, was found unresponsive on Dyess Air Force Base Aug. 28, 2012 after Klapheke called 911. The medical examiner who conducted the autopsy on Tamryn ruled the manner of death as homicide by malnutrition and dehydration.
As a result of Eidson not being able to participate, Assistant District Attorney Joel Wilks and Arimy Beasley will prosecute. Defense attorneys George Parnahm of Houston and John Young of Sweetwater will continue to represent Klapheke.
Klapheke underwent a pre-trial hearing at 9 a.m. Friday in the 104th District Court under Judge Lee Hamilton at the Taylor County Courthouse. Parnham attended via conference call.
The hearing mainly centered on the questionnaire that prosecutors and defense attorneys will collaborate on before submitting it to potential jurors. The questionnaire is intended to help both sides ensure Klapheke will have unbiased jurors hear her case.
Judge Hamilton asked both sides to include a general statement at the top of the questionnaire that would outline what the case is about (i.e. the child death on Dyess Airforce Base).
Parnham requested the questionnaire include a statement specifying the charge against Klapheke (i.e. she's charged with injury to a child by omission, or allegedly failing to provide adequate nutrition, hydration and medical attention for Tamryn). Wilks objected to that. He said some of the proposed definitions are incorrect and by including such a statement, the jury would be invited to make decisions about the case before hearing all the evidence. His objection was sustained.
Judge Hamilton wants the questionnaire to be finalized by noon on Wednesday, Jan. 22.
If convicted, Klapheke could be sentenced anywhere from five to 99 years or life in prison.