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Kramer gets forty years

Tue, Apr 11th, 2000
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On Monday morning, April 17, Judge Robert R. Benson sentenced Harold Howey Kramer Jr. to forty years in prison for the murder of his three-year-old son, Kenny.

Calling Kramer, one of the most dangerous human beings hes seen in thirty years of dealing with criminals, Benson handed down the sentence saying, "Mr. Kramer, I regret it is not more."

Kramer was found guilty of second degree intentional murder on March 17, by a Fillmore County jury for the May 10, 1999, death of his son, who was taken from his bed in Brownsville. The boys body was found eight days later in a garbage bag about 100 yards from Kramers parents home. The trial was moved from Houston to Fillmore County be-cause of publicity.

Mondays sentencing was at the Houston County Courthouse in Caledonia. The courtroom, which is much smaller than Fillmore Countys courtroom was filled to capacity with Kramer family members, law enforcement officers, FBI agents, and members of the media. Several jurors from the seven-week-long trial were also in attendance.

Prior to sentencing on Monday, Prosecutor William Klumpp argued for an upward departure from the mandatory sentence for second-degree intentional murder which is 306 months or twenty-five and one half years. Klumpp asked that Benson sentence Kramer to a maximum of 480 months or forty years.

Noting that Kramer did not have a prior criminal record, Klumpp said there were several aggravating factors that warranted the upward departure. Among the factors that Klumpp cited was the vulnerable age of the victim and the particular cruelty of the crime. Klumpp said that Kramer had inflicted undue emotional trauma upon his parents and the entire community at large; and that he had accused innocent people of the crime. Finally, Klumpp said, Kramer had not accepted responsibility for the crime.

Kramers attorney Candace Rasmussen argued that Kramer had maintained his innocence from the beginning of the case. At the same time, she said that Kramer accepted the jurys verdict. "He had the benefit of a jury of very wise and thought-ful people who found him not guilty of first degree murder," Rasmussen said.

Rasmussen said that the attention the community gave to the crime should not be considered in sentencing Kramer to more than 25 1/2 years. "That would be pandering to publicity," she said.

In conclusion, Rasmussen asked for a mandatory sentence that would be "appropriate, reasonable and equitable."

Harold Kramer Sr., Howey's father, was then given a chance to speak. He read a statement that he and his wife, Margaret, had written to-gether. "The loss of our grand-son is too devastating to put into words," Kramer Sr. said. "Each day is filled with reminders of Kenny and well never hear his giggles or see his little eyes peering over the bed."

Kramer Sr. asked the judge not to sentence Howey to more than what the law called for. "Im sixty-three years old and have had a heart attack. This sentence will take my youngest son from my life . . . " Kramer said, his voice faltering.

Howey Kramer addresses the court

After a short recess, Howey Kramer was given a chance to speak. "I love my son, I always will. Hes my life and always will be, " Kramer began.

Kramer told how he had once saved the life of an elderly man who had backed his car into the Mississippi River. "If I was willing to put my life on line for somebody I didnt know, I wouldnt hurt somebody I knew, especially my son," Kramer said.

In a reference to the "drug deal gone bad" and the person whom Kramer has claimed took his son, he said that the Brownsville area was safe, but in La Crosse there was still a "very dangerous person running around there."

Kramer then said he agreed with the jurys verdict and that "they did what they had to do with what they had to work with."

Kramers final words were directed to the judge. "And no matter what you do now, Ill re-spect that also," Kramer said.

Judge Benson spent the next twenty minutes reviewing various aspects of the trial. He said that attorney Rasmussen had vigorously defended Kramer and challenged every piece of evidence submitted. "You received a fair trial in this case," Benson stated.

He went on to say that the most damaging evidence had come from Kramer himself when he had testified in his own behalf. Benson called Kramers lies outrageous and said that his testimony had en-sured his guilt.

Benson said he had the utmost respect for Harold and Margaret Kramer and said that they had dealt with an unimaginable ordeal with extreme courage and stoicism.

"Every person who attended this trial will carry emotional scars for the rest of their life," Benson said. "I really hope that at sometime in the future you will have the courage to tell your parents the truth so that they dont have to live their lives in fear."

Howey Kramer hung his head low and looked into the table he was sitting at as Benson continued. "You are a liar, a murderer and you are a thief," Benson said. "You have stolen the happiness and joy that Kenny would continue to bring to his grandparents."

Benson said there were a plethora of facts that called for an upward departure in the sentencing. "You place this court in a quandary, the evidence supports the upward departure," Benson said, "but do I deprive your parents of their son?"

Benson said that Kramer had treated his own son worse than anyone would treat any animal. You treated him like people treat their garbage, Benson said and added that he hoped that no other child would ever again call Kramer, "dad".

"I for one, will never be able to hear a child cry again without imagining your sons death," Benson said.

Benson then imposed the maximum sentence allowed under Minnesota State law for second-degree intentional murder: forty years or 480 months. He gave 335 days credit for time already served in jail. Benson also ordered Kramer to pay partial reimbursement to Houston County of $7,200 for various court and investigative costs.

Howey Kramer was then taken from the courtroom by Houston County Sheriff Mike Lee and deputies. Kramer was first sent to the Minnesota Correctional Institute in St. Cloud. He will begin serving his sentence at one of seven Minnesota State prisons after an evaluation at St. Cloud.

Kramer will be eligible for parole in twenty-six years. He will then be fifty-three years old.

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