The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Local News

November 4, 2013

Inmate gets life term in cellmate's death at Cambria jail

EBENSBURG — William Amos Cramer, convicted last month in the murder of his cellmate at the Cambria County Prison, was sentenced Monday to life in prison without the chance of parole.

Cambria County Judge Patrick Kiniry then tacked on an additional sentence of

45 to 90 months for the assault of an inmate conviction handed down by the jury on Oct. 14.

“You not only took a life, but you ruined your own. Obviously you’re a very violent person,” Kiniry told Cramer.

Cramer, 22, beat up, strangled and hung William Sherry, 28, a Northern Cambria native who had been placed in Cramer’s cell at the county prison on Aug. 4, 2012.

Sherry was found dead about 12 hours after he was moved into Cramer’s cell.

A native of the Uniontown area, Cramer was at the county prison awaiting a hearing for an assault incident while he was at SCI-Cresson.

Sherry had been picked up four days earlier for failing to report to his parole officer and failure to pay costs/fines.

Cramer told corrections officers and investigators following the murder that he killed Sherry because the victim had fathered a black child.

Appearing in court Monday, Megan Owens, a white woman, showed the judge of picture of the child she had with Sherry.

She described herself as a single mother working a minimum wage job, left to raise her daughter alone, because of Cramer’s actions.

“I’ll have to tell her what happened to her father,” an emotional Owens said.

Cramer told the judge that he felt he had an “unfair trial.”

When questioned by Kiniry about his background, Cramer said he graduated from high school and worked in a lumber yard for a while until he ran afoul of the law.

He started using cocaine and PCP and went on what he termed “a binge” in explaining his prior record of six robberies and three terroristic threats. He also had an assault charge filed against him for an incident at SCI-Benner in Centre County.

When asked by the court why he felt so strongly about other races, he replied: “I just love my race. That’s my religion.”

Cramer said his stepfather physically abused him as a child.

Cambria County District Attorney Kelly Callahan asked the judge to impose a life sentence, plus more time for the assault conviction.

“Mr. Sherry died a very violent death and his life was cut short at a very early age,” she said.

Cambria County Public Defender Ryan Gleason told the judge he respected the jury’s verdict.

Gleason argued during the trial that Cramer had snapped and acted without premedication. He was seeking a conviction of third-degree murder.

Security was tight in the courtroom Monday with four corrections officers from SCI-Greene, where Cramer is currently housed, standing nearby. Also in the courtroom were Sheriff Bob Kolar and three deputies.

Cramer was convicted three weeks ago following a three-day trial. The jury took two hours, including time out to eat lunch, before coming back with a verdict.

Kathy Mellott covers the Cambria County courthouse for The Tribune-Democrat. Follow her on Twitter at

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What is the biggest key to reducing gun violence in Johnstown?

Tackling the area's drug problem.
Controlling folks moving into city housing.
Monitoring folks in treatment centers and halfway houses.
Tougher sentencing by the court system.
More police on the streets.

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