For juror Jimmy Asbill, the process of convicting and sentencing Tiffany Klapheke for neglecting her daughter Tamryn to the point of death was stressful.
But as Asbill sees it, the six-man, six-woman Taylor County jury – after seven hours of deliberation – reached a fair decision.
“I feel like we did,” Asbill said, referring to Klapheke’s 30-year sentence after the jury found her guilty of injury to a child by omission.
However, Asbill said, there should have been more people on trial than just Klapheke.
“In my opinion, and I'm only speaking from my aspect of it, there should have been more on trial except for one,” Asbill said.
During the trial, defense attorneys placed blame on CPS, which improperly closed a case on the Klapheke family just six days before Tamryn’s death and without a final visit.
They also pointed blame at Dyess social workers and Tamryn’s father, Thomas, who was deployed at the time of Tamryn’s death but who has also been investigated for alleged neglect over the years.
Prosector Joel Wilks, when posed the question about whether there’s any interest in prosecuting Thomas, said:
“We don't prosecute people on feelings. We prosecute people on evidence and the only person that was in that home when Thomas was in that home had the ability to speak – the statement she gave which was in that video – is that he's an amazing father. So how do you secure prosecution when someone – the only adult, the only person that can speak – says he's amazing? It's just not practical.”
Overall, Wilks and follower prosecutor Arimy Beasley said they’re satisfied with the outcome.
“I think as far as what sums up the trial – I think that Tiffany's words at the end whenever the judge asked her what she thought about things, if she had anything to say, whenever she started talking about how this didn't do anything to help her really summarizes it,” Wilks said. “I think we had a very, very selfish person that always put her own needs ahead of her children and continues to do so today.”
Eric Vickers, Abilene Police Department lead detective, also said he was pleased.
“We have a good team of detectives that worked hard,” Vickers said. “The state's attorneys worked hard – and really the community and the jury that came from our community listened and paid attention and really heard all of the evidence and all of the facts. I think they made a good decision.”
After the verdict was read, Klapheke told District Judge Lee Hamilton through tears that she didn’t feel she deserved the guilty verdict or the 30-year sentence.
“I can tell you that she's shocked and saddened,” defense attorney John Young said. “As she told the court, she never intended to harm the children. That was the benchmark of Mr. Parnham's defense – our defense. It’s a very sad time for her and for her family.
Added Asbill, “She can't change the past. The past is the past, so she needs to build for a better future.”