A Deer Lodge County judge sentenced a Washington State man who confessed to killing his 3-year-old son in a drug-induced hallucination near Anaconda to life in prison without the possibility of parole. The sentencing came down just before noon Friday.
The judge went against the plea deal 38-year-old Jeremy Cramer cut with prosecutors. He agreed to plead guilty in exchange for a life sentence, with a chance for parole in 30 years. But the judge said no to parole.
He said, the way Cramer butchered his own son, demanded the toughest punishment allowed by law.
Cramer left his home in Lacey, Wash., on a Monday morning last July. He took 3-year-old Broderick with him. By that afternoon, Cramer's wife reported the two missing.
The same night, an Anaconda gas station clerk called 9-1-1 after seeing Cramer cleaning blood off his hands and clothes. Police arrested Cramer and began a search.
The next morning, they found Broderick's body. He was found just southeast of Anaconda, off Mill Creek Road, and had been beaten to death with a rock.
Cramer confessed to his father that he killed his son, during a taped conversation that police were listening in on. He pleaded guilty to the murder in December.
This morning, just 5 miles from the field where Broderick lost his life, his father learned how his life will likely end.
"You shall be confined to the Montana State Prison for the rest of your natural life, without any possibility of parole. Period," said District Judge Loren Tucker.
Tucker read Cramer's sentence before a packed Anaconda courtroom Friday. In handing down the life sentence, he cited new pictures from the crime scene.
"The only short phrase to describe what is depicted in in state exhibit 4 is a butchered body of a young child," said Tucker.
On the stand, a probation and parole officer who worked with Cramer through sentencing told the court room Cramer felt little remorse for what happened
"He stated he felt that he regretted more what he did with drinking around his wife than what he did on the hill that day," said Probation and Parole Officer Tara Biliteen.
The Chief Prosecutor for the Attorney General Brant Light asked Biliteen to read a letter from Cramer's wife and Brody's mother, detailing the pain he caused by his actions last July.
"I can't comprehend in my head the picture of how my little boy died," read Biliteen. "I feel that Brody was begging his father 'Daddy don't hurt me, I love you and trust you so much, don't kill me.'"
In the letter, Cramer's wife wrote that they had been having marital problems caused by Cramer's drug use and drinking. She said when she brought up divorce, her husband threatened to take her son.
"Brody was everything to me, my life, my heir, my soul," read Biliteen, from the letter.
Cramer is still being held at the Deer Lodge County jail. He is expected to be moved to Montana State Prison in Deer Lodge.