AP NEWS

Prison inmate accused of trying to kill guard is arraigned in court

May 26, 2018 GMT

A state prison inmate accused of trying to kill a correctional officer with a razor blade was adamant at his arraignment Friday that he wants to represent himself at trial.

When the charges pending against him were read by President Judge D. Gregory Geary, William Cramer, 27, of Marienville, protested.

“I don’t agree with Assistant District Attorney (Hannah) Myers about the attempted homicide and aggravated assault, but I guess that is for the jury to decide,” he said via video from a state prison in Forest County.

The judge agreed.

Cramer, formerly of McClellandtown, Fayette County, was taken to Somerset Hospital after he swallowed a razor blade at the State Correctional Institution at Somerset along Walter’s Mill Road Dec. 3, according to court documents.

Once at the hospital, Cramer passed the razor blade, removed the blade from his rectum in a restroom and concealed it. He then complained about a handcuff being too tight. When the correctional officer approached him to check the handcuff, Cramer lunged at the officer and attempted to slit his throat, police said.

Geary told Cramer that because he is representing himself, “every procedure from this day out you will have to be personally present.

“Today starts the clock ticking for deadlines for filing certain documents.”

The judge told Cramer that since he is incarcerated, if he fails to come to one of the scheduled hearings, by refusing to come out of his cell for transport, for example, they can move ahead without him.

Cramer, who said he is enduring retaliation in the state prison system, asked the judge if a letter could be drafted stating that he wants to appear at all scheduled hearings.

Since 2013, Cramer has been serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole for first-degree murder in the strangling death of his cellmate, William Henry Sherry, 28, of Johnstown, Aug. 4, 2012, at the Cambria County Prison.

In 2014, while an inmate at a state prison in Northampton County, Cramer was charged with using a razor-like weapon to slash a correctional officer’s throat. The officer survived. Cramer was found guilty of attempted homicide and other charges and was sentenced to 20 to 40 years in prison.

Less than two days after his conviction in that case in 2015, Cramer was charged with attacking another guard at a state prison in Schuylkill County. He allegedly told officers he was having heart trouble and attacked a guard with a razor blade when they opened his cell, according to published reports. The case is pending.

Besides attempted homicide and aggravated assault, Cramer faces charges of assault by life prisoner, assault by prisoner, terroristic threats and simple assault.