Updated at: 07/31/2013 3:05 PM
By MATT VOLZ
(AP) ANACONDA, Mont. - A Washington state man pleaded not guilty Wednesday to beating and stabbing to death his 3-year-old son in a southwestern Montana field this month after taking him from their Lacey home.
Jeremy Brent Cramer, 38, was arraigned in District Court in Anaconda, about five miles from where Broderick Cramer’s body was found July 9 next to a knife and two rocks covered with blood and hair.
The 38-year-old Cramer, wearing a black-and-white striped jumpsuit and orange sandals, spoke only once to answer Judge John Larson affirmatively that he understood his rights.
Public defender Walter Hennessey entered an initial not guilty plea to a charge of deliberate homicide, telling Larson he didn’t want to prejudice any possible defenses.
Larson presided over the arraignment by videoconference from Missoula County. He said he will submit the plea to District Judge Loren Tucker of Dillon, who has been assigned the case.
After the five-minute hearing, Cramer was escorted back to the Anaconda-Deer Lodge County jail, where he is being held on $250,000 bail.
Hennessey declined to speak about the case or Cramer after the hearing.
Cramer was arrested July 8 after a convenience store clerk in Anaconda discovered him in the restroom, washing blood from his clothes. Cramer’s wife, Nataliya, had told Lacey police earlier in the day that her husband had taken their son and had not responded to numerous phone calls and text messages.
Investigators found Broderick’s body the next morning.
Police found bloody keys and a knife on Cramer, along with an empty container for a generic substitute of the stimulant Adderall, according to court documents filed by prosecutors. The label on the container said the prescription had been filled only five days before.
Cramer’s brother, Jon Cramer, told police his brother was a former methamphetamine addict who had been "doctor shopping" for a physician who would provide him with Adderall.
Cramer phoned his father after he was arrested and told him in the recorded call that he ran out of gas and he started walking down the rural road with his son on his shoulders, according to prosecutors.
A partial transcript of the phone call says Cramer told his father he killed his own son, and he didn’t know why. He asked "Why did I take all my pills?" according to the transcript.
The deliberate homicide charge can carry the death penalty or life in prison. County Attorney Ben Krakowka has not said whether he intends to pursue the death penalty.
(Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)