Cramm gets tough sentence for drugs

By SCOTT NORTH

Herald Writer

An Everett man whose son is charged with two murders after a May 30 fistfight turned into a gunbattle was ordered into jail Monday by a judge who chastised him for having drugs in his home.

Dale Brian Cramm, 44, in September pleaded guilty to possessing marijuana with intent to sell and to possessing hallucinogenic mushrooms. The drugs were found after the shootings.

Snohomish County Superior Court Judge Ronald Castleberry sentenced Cramm to eight months in jail, the maximum punishment under state sentencing guidelines.

Castleberry noted that Cramm had at a recent court hearing promised to stay in the area because he had to look after his son, Dennis, who turns 18 this month. The younger Cramm is scheduled to go on trial in February for two counts of first-degree murder and for being a felon in possession of a firearm.

"I wonder where that attitude was when he was having drugs in his home where his son was?" Castleberry wondered aloud about Dale Cramm.

Cramm’s legal troubles surfaced the night a large crowd of young people converged on his south Everett home to watch a fistfight between his son and another Snohomish County youth, 16.

The fight erupted in gunfire, taking the lives of Jason Thompson and Jesse Stoner, both 18, who were shot to death as they rode in a car that was being driven from the scene.

Prosecutors allege that Dennis Cramm fired the fatal shots from an SKS semiautomatic rifle equipped with a bayonet, one of a half-dozen military-style rifles that were kept at the Cramm home.

Investigators openly had discussed charging Dale Cramm with murder too, based on allegations made by a former housemate, who claimed the man had help set the stage for the fatal gunfire, and then had conspired to hide evidence.

But the informant’s story deflated after the man failed to pass a lie detector test about his claim that Dale Cramm had paid him $5,000 to leave the area.

As part of their September plea agreement with Cramm, prosecutors dropped charges of tampering with witnesses and evidence as well as a heroin possession charge.

The heroin apparently belonged to somebody else at Cramm’s house.

Everett defense attorney Mark Mestel urged Castleberry to sentence Cramm to three months in jail. He said police found about three ounces of marijuana and just a few grams of hallucinogenic mushroom.

"This is probably the only time I’ve seen the state recommend the top end of the range for this amount of controlled substances," Mestel said.

Cramm told the judge that he’s lost nearly everything since his arrest.

"I’ve learned a lot from this," he said. "… I’ve really hurt a lot, suffered a lot."

Castleberry made clear that he was sentencing Cramm to the top recommended sentence because the facts of the case supported the punishment. The judge made a point of making clear that he wasn’t considering any media reports about the case in reaching his decision.

Cramm was given credit for 70 days he served in jail after the shooting and before he was released on bail in September. Castleberry ordered him behind bars immediately, although he did make provisions for the man to receive shoulder surgery in November and recuperate for about a week in home detention before serving the remainder of his sentence.

The judge told Cramm that his felonies now preclude him from possessing any firearms.

At the time of the shootings, Cramm’s son, Dennis, was also barred from possessing firearms. The teen had earlier that month been sentenced to receive drug treatment and counseling after being convicted as a juvenile for intimidating a witness.

Court papers show the case stemmed from a Jan. 23 domestic violence incident at the Cramm home, during which a glass window was punched out, and the teen hit and threatened to shoot his mother for calling police to report his violent behavior.

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