Young Cramm raises jail ruckus


Herald Writer

A teen-ager accused in the May 30 shooting deaths of two other young men has been misbehaving so much while in jail that it took a court order Friday to get corrections officials to allow him access to a pencil.

Dennis J. Cramm, 18, is scheduled to go on trial Feb. 9, charged with two counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of Jason Thompson and Jesse Stoner, both 18 at the time of their deaths. The pair died after a fistfight outside Cramm’s south Everett home ended in gunfire.

Cramm was 17 when he was arrested for the shootings, and he’s spent much of his time in jail breaking the rules, running up a list of nearly 40 infractions, Snohomish County Superior Court Judge Richard Thorpe was told Friday.

Among other things, Cramm allegedly has plugged up his cell toilet, causing it to overflow, refused on occasion to make his bed or clean up messes, and attempted to communicate with his father, Dale Cramm, 44, who is serving an eight-month sentence for drug trafficking, according to a letter from corrections officials. Communication between the pair is forbidden because Dale Cramm is listed as a witness for his son’s trial.

Corrections staff wrote the judge about Dennis Cramm’s alleged misdeeds to explain why they curtailed his access to pencils and paper.

"This is just a brief outline showing Dennis Cramm’s inability to follow rules, something he jokes about when comments are made about all his violations by both staff and other inmates," corrections officer Marlene Fairbanks wrote. "He appears to be very immature. This immaturity is shown by him teasing other inmates about their charges, punching another inmate in the arm, kicking his door and yelling."

Cramm’s attorney, Royce Ferguson of Everett, on Friday asked Snohomish County Superior Court Judge Richard Thorpe to order corrections officials to give his client access to writing materials. The younger Cramm needs to review police reports and witness statements in preparation for trial, and he needs to be able to write down his questions and concerns, Ferguson said.

Cramm has pleaded innocent and is expected to argue he shot in self-defense.

Deputy prosecutor Ed Stemler said the reports contain addresses and phone numbers of witnesses, and he is concerned that Cramm might attempt to contact them if he is able to write down the information.

He said Cramm should review his case records under the watchful eye of corrections officials, without access to writing materials. In the alternative, corrections officials have suggested strip searching Cramm afterward to make sure he isn’t trying to smuggle out information, Stemler said.

Thorpe ruled that Cramm be given access to a pencil, but said the defendant will have to write any notes to his attorney on the police reports he is reviewing. He also ordered corrections staff to check each record Cramm reviews to make sure he doesn’t tear away pieces of paper.

Ferguson suggested his client may not be comfortable leaving notes to his lawyer that could be read by corrections officials. Thorpe was unmoved, although he did order that anything corrections officials see not be shared with prosecutors.

"I’m not particularly concerned, under the circumstances, with his level of comfort," the judge said.

The hearing was watched by Sonny and Mary Thompson, the parents of one of the teens allegedly killed by Cramm. Sonny Thompson wore his son’s Mariner High School letterman’s jacket. Jason Thompson had been a standout athlete, earning letters in football, basketball and track.

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