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KLAPHEKE TRIAL: Jury selection will continue Tuesday

By Ariana Garza, Weekend Anchor/Crime & Courts Reporter, agarza@ktxs.com
Dora Miller, Reporter, dmiller@ktxs.com
Published On: Jan 26 2014 07:59:52 PM CST
Updated On: Jan 27 2014 09:46:47 PM CST
ABILENE, Texas -

Jury selection will pick back up at 10 a.m. Tuesday for the trial of 23-year-old Tiffany Klapheke, who is accused of neglecting her toddler who died after she allegedly failed to feed her.

While 96 people are potential jurors, only 12 will be chosen. The selection process continued throughout the day Monday - with the prosecution taking up most of the afternoon and then the defense taking over.

Klapheke was arrested in August 2012 after she called 911 and first responders found her toddler – Tamryn – unresponsive on Dyess Air Force Base.

She is charged with first-degree felony injury to a child. If convicted, the jury could sentence her anywhere from five to 99 years – or life – in prison.  

During a pre-trial hearing, prosecutors said two former Child Protective Services supervisors, Bit Whitaker and Gretchen Denny, will invoke the 5th Amendment if asked to testify.

According to CPS, the agency's investigation into the Klapheke home was closed just six days before the toddler died in August 2012 without a mandatory final visit.

A total of four former Child Protective Service workers – and one current employee – are on the witness list for the trial.

All had some involvement – including Whitaker and Denny – in the Klapheke investigation that CPS undertook before the child died.

Others subpoenaed to appear at the trial include Barbara McDaniel, Tiffany Gann, and Rebecca Tapia.  McDaniel is the only one still working for CPS.

Meanwhile, defense motions to quash the Klapheke indictment, ban discussion of the living conditions in the Klapheke house and ban potential evidence of the lack of bonding between Klapheke and her child were denied.

104th District Judge Lee Hamilton did, however, grant a defense motion to not make jurors aware of the fact that Klapheke's former live-in boyfriend, Airman Christopher Perez's, is currently serving a three-year military prison sentence in relation to the case. The defense made the motion since Perez will be called as a witness.

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The trial for the mother accused of failing to feed her toddler to the point of death is set to begin today.

Tiffany Klapheke, 23, was arrested in August 2012 after she called 911 and first responders found her toddler – Tamryn – unresponsive on Dyess Air Force Base.

Klapheke is charged with first-degree felony injury to a child. If convicted, she could be sentenced anywhere from five to 99 years - or life - in prison.  While trial proceedings are set to begin today, the jury still has to be seated.   

Klapheke was originally going to be represented by court-appointed attorneys, but obtained her own attorneys in September, delaying her trial to this week.

Her attorneys – George Parnham and John Young – have more than 50 years of criminal trial experience combined and neither are strangers to high-profile cases.

Houston-based attorney George Parnham has been practicing for more than 30 years and is most famously known for defending Andrea Yates, who drowned her five children one-by-one in a bathtub in 2001.

Yates was eventually found not guilty by reason of insanity and is now being housed in a state hospital.

Just recently, Parnham picked up another high-profile client, Conrad Bennett, who was charged with a hate crime in connection to a so-called "knock-out" game in Katy, Texas.

According to Parnham, Bennett is on a number of medications for bipolar disorder.

Partnering with Parnham is Klapheke's other attorney, John Young. Young is a local attorney who has been practicing for more than 20 years. He said he has handled dozens of cases involving children.

One example is the Paula Roach case. Roach pleaded guilty to aggravated kidnapping after she took another woman's child in Walmart parking lot.

Young is also currently the attorney for Colorado City teen Hailey Dunn's mother, Billie. The teen's scattered remains were found at Scurry County's Lake JB Thomas in 2013. To date, no arrests have been made.

Young told KTXS he cannot comment on the Klapheke case because of a gag order issued by the judge in the case, but he did say he has handled many cases dealing with mental health.

Klapheke spoke to KTXS exclusively after recruiting Young and Parnham to represent her. She said she wanted her lawyers to take a close look at her mental health history prior to trial.

We'll bring you updates on air and online throughout the trial.