EBENSBURG - The man accused of killing his Cambria County cellmate in August sat silently through the testimony of corrections officers at his preliminary hearing Monday.
William Amos Cramer, 21, stared directly at the witness stand as the Cambria County District Attorney's Office called seven witnesses, including Cambria County Prison Warden John Prebish and state Trooper Kenneth Durbin, who investigated the death.
Cramer strangled his cellmate, William Sherry, of Northern Cambria on Aug. 4 with ripped pieces of bed sheet, authorities said.
Mirror photo by Zach Geiger
Cambria County corrections officer George Rozum escorts William Amos Cramer into his preliminary hearing Monday before Magisterial District Judge Frederick Creany. Cramer is charged with criminal homicide after his cellmate was found dead in their prison cell in August.
Cramer is charged with criminal homicide, aggravated assault and assault by prisoner. Magisterial District Judge Frederick Creany moved the case to Cambria County Court after hearing the testimony.
District Attorney Kelly Callihan presented two letters allegedly written by Cramer after the incident, in which Cramer admitted his guilt and threatened another inmate.
Corrections officers working the night of Sherry's death testified that Cramer activated his cell's intercom and began shouting at guards in the control unit. Officers approached the cell and handcuffed Cramer, who was then removed from the cell and locked in a nearby shower room.
Corrections officers found Sherry motionless on the floor and began CPR. Sherry was pronounced dead at the scene, Cambria County First Deputy Coroner Herman Long said.
Multiple corrections officers testified that Sherry was bound by his wrists and ankles with pieces of bed sheet, and had another piece of bed sheet wrapped around his neck and a gag in his mouth.
Cramer was originally moved to Cambria County Prison while awaiting a court appearance for separate charges filed against him as an inmate at State Correctional Institution at Cresson, police said. Cramer was placed in cell 67 in the restricted housing unit and Sherry was later moved into his cell.
Letters recovered by corrections officers on Aug. 17 and 18 from another inmate were written by Cramer, officers testified. The letters explained in graphic detail how Sherry was killed and included racial slurs and allegations against Sherry.
Cramer is currently incarcerated at SCI Rockview.
The manner in which Sherry was found and the fact that both inmates were completely isolated from the prison's general population while locked in the cell showed that Sherry's death could not have been a suicide, Callihan said.
"One of the individuals came out alive," and the other suffered a "brutal" death, she said.
Public Defender Ryan Gleason said the defense was still trying to understand why Cramer allegedly identified Sherry as a child molester, even though his record did not indicate any criminal history of child sexual abuse.
"We're still trying to get the full information on what happened on Aug. 4," Gleason said.
Cramer's next court appearance is scheduled for Jan. 29 in Cambria County Court.
Mirror Staff Writer Zach Geiger is at 946-7535.