Republican senator Kevin Cramer’s son pleads not guilty to homicide over deadly winter crash

Sheriffy’s deputy Paul Martin, 53, was killed in the fatal December collision

Kelly Rissman
Wednesday 17 April 2024 17:30 BST
Booking photo of Ian Cramer, who pleaded not guilty on 17 April to a homicide charge related to a crash that killed a North Dakota sheriff’s deputy
Booking photo of Ian Cramer, who pleaded not guilty on 17 April to a homicide charge related to a crash that killed a North Dakota sheriff’s deputy (McLean County Sheriff’s Office via AP)

The son of North Dakota Republican senator Kevin Cramer has pleaded not guilty to homicide months after he was involved in a car crash that left a sheriff’s deputy dead.

Ian Cramer, 42, was charged with nine counts — including homicide, reckless endangerment, preventing arrest and drug possession — after he crashed an allegedly stolen vehicle on 6 December, 2023, resulting in the death of a sheriff’s officer. He pleaded not guilty on 17 April, the Mercer County District Court’s office told The Independent.

After Mr Cramer pleaded not guilty, his father, Senator Cramer, told The Independent in a statement that the plea “is consistent with his previous pleas and his prerogative in our system of justice. He and his counsel no doubt have a legal strategy to defend him against the charges. I have not discussed any of it with Ian or his lawyer, but none of us should be surprised by any of his pleas so far.”

The Senator added, “Ian remains innocent until proven guilty. I love Ian and pray for an appropriate outcome.”

The Independent has reached out to Mr Cramer’s public defender and the Mercer County State’s Attorney’s Office.

Although the senator’s son was initially charged with manslaughter, a judge upgraded it to a homicide charge.

In March, Mr Cramer pleaded not guilty to counts related to stealing the car and damage caused by the crash.

Cramer’s booking photo following his arrest in December after the fatal crash (Mercer County Sheriff's Office via AP)

On 6 December, Bismarck officers were notified that a 2017 Black Chevy Tahoe had been stolen, according to a statement. Ian Cramer allegedly stole his mother’s car after she had taken him to the emergency room.

He reversed into the hospital building, causing $12,000-worth of damage, the Bismarck Tribune reported, and then kept driving.

Mercer County Sheriff’s Office approached Mr Cramer in the car but he fled, and a “pursuit ensued”, filings said.

The Republican lawmaker’s son reached 100mph, The Associated Press reported, and continued driving after his vehicle hit a spiked device that flattened two tires.

Martin kneeled beside his retired K9 Goliath in an undated photo (Mercer County Sheriff’s Office via AP)

Mr Cramer’s vehicle veered and rammed “head-on” into a sheriff’s office patrol car parked on the side of the road, the police statement read.

Although the patrol car was unoccupied, a sheriff’s deputy, 53-year-old Paul Martin, was standing behind the car. The two-car collision propelled the police car onto Martin, throwing him 100 feet in the air, killing him, the outlet reported.

After the incident in December, Senator Cramer wrote in a statement that his son “suffers from serious mental disorders which manifest in severe paranoia and hallucinations”.

“We ask the public for prayers for the lost officer’s family and colleagues who serve us every day and are grateful for all they do for us,” the senator said. “We also ask God for healing for Ian. We love him and hurt deeply.”

Mr Cramer’s trial is expected to begin in mid-July, according to court records.

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