Judge says parents’ claims can move ahead

The parents of two teenagers who were shot dead six years ago in Everett have searched for more justice in the courts for four years.

A judge Thursday left a door open for that to happen.

“It’s just one tiny bit of justice in an unjust world,” said Seattle lawyer Frank Shoichet. He’s representing Sonny and Mary Thompson, whose 18-year-old son Jason was gunned down in the back seat of a car fleeing from a melee that ended with gunfire.

Also participating in the civil lawsuit against fight participants are Kenneth and Donna Stoner, whose son Jesse, also 18, was killed in the same car.

Snohomish County Superior Court Judge David Kurtz ruled the Thompsons and the Stoners can seek to collect money from the insurance company of one of the people involved in a fight and gun battle that took place May 30, 2000, at a private home in south Everett.

The policy covered Daniel Woodall, then 16, who attended the fight and for a time had control of the military-style SKS rifle that was used in the killing.

His parents, Michael R. and Donna L. Woodall, bought the policy. The policy comes into play because of their underage son’s actions.

The fight was at the home of Dale Cramm and his then-17-year-old son, Dennis. Dennis Cramm grabbed the semiautomatic rifle and fired at another person who was shooting in the direction of his father.

Kurtz ruled that Woodall may have acted negligently by not keeping the weapon away from Cramm.

That means Pioneer Insurance Co. may be liable to pay damages, depending on the outcome of a trial, which will be held later.

Pioneer lawyer Martha Raymond argued that Dennis Cramm’s deliberate acts meant the company was not liable.

“There should be coverage for everything the policy is written for, not for anything that happens,” Raymond told Kurtz.

Dennis Cramm fired through the back window of the car containing Jason Thompson and Jesse Stoner. He was later convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to 60 years in prison.

Dale Cramm was sentenced to eight months in the Snohomish County Jail for possessing marijuana and hallucinogenic mushrooms, which were found by police in the aftermath of the shooting.

Police also confiscated and destroyed Dale Cramm’s collection of 11 rifles and shotguns. Some of those weapons had been stashed around the yard in preparation for the fight between Dennis Cramm and another boy.

Lawyers Shoichet and Frank Wilson of Everett previously went after the Cramm homeowners’ insurance policy, but that attempt failed because Dennis Cramm’s acts were ruled intentional and illegal.

In the Pioneer case, the judge signed an order saying that Daniel Woodall’s actions are covered under the policy.

“It’s a real breakthrough for getting this case restarted,” Shoichet said. “This is not the end.”

Reporter Jim Haley: 425-339-3447 or haley@heraldnet.com.

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