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Jurors see police interview mom in Dyess toddler's death

Jan. 31, 2014 - 08:06AM   |  
Tamryn Klapheke, 22 months, died from malnutrition and dehydration due to prolonged neglect.
Tamryn Klapheke, 22 months, died from malnutrition and dehydration due to prolonged neglect. (Courtesy photo)
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ABILENE, TEXAS — A jury watched video Thursday of an almost-seven-hour police interview with a West Texas woman on trial in the starvation death of her 22-month-old daughter.

The interview was screened for jurors Thursday in Abilene. In it, Tiffany Klapheke said her husband was deployed overseas with the Air Force and she’d become overwhelmed caring for their three children alone.

“I really wasn’t a good mom the past few days,” she told police Detective Eric Vickers on Aug. 26, 2012, the day police found her daughter Tamryn dead at the family home. “I’ve been honest even though it makes me look horrible.”

The video was played in the second day of testimony in her trial. Klapheke is charged with injury to a child in the death of her daughter by malnutrition and dehydration. Prosecutors allege the 23-year-old mother failed to feed her three daughters, leading to the death of her youngest one.

“I don’t want you to take them away because I was lazy,” Klapheke told Vickers.

Klapheke said in the video she didn’t understand how daughter Tamryn died. She tearfully told of the moment found Tamryn dead in her crib.

“I said, ‘Tamryn.’ She didn’t move. ‘Tamryn,’ she didn’t move. I’d pick her up and she’s stiff. Her eyes are rolled back and her lips are purple. I didn’t know what to do. She wouldn’t wake up,” she said. “I didn’t believe what I was seeing.”

As the video ran, Klapheke wept, sobbed and rocked back and forth in her chair at the defense table.

The Taylor County jury will continue viewing the interview on Friday. If Klapheke is convicted, she could be sentenced to up to life imprisonment.

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