In this April 2013 file photo, Ed Kramer is removed from court during a bond hearing with Judge Karen Beyers at Gwinnett County Superior Court.
LAWRENCEVILLE — Warned repeatedly that proceedings would go on without him, Ed Kramer stood pat. He didn’t feel well. The accommodations sheriff’s deputies had made for an oxygen tank were no longer adequate.
“I understand, I don’t have a choice at this point,” Kramer — bespectacled, a large black yamulke perched on a larger, messy mass of black hair, breathing oxygen from a tank on the back of his wheelchair — told Gwinnett County Judge Karen Beyers.
“Your appearance appears to be just the same as when you began this hearing today,” Beyers said. “In terms of my observations of you, there’s nothing that I can see that’s deteriorated in terms of your physical appearance since you’ve been here, or in terms of your attention to the matters.”
Kramer responded quickly before being wheeled out of the courtroom.
“Thank you for your medical assessment,” he snarked.
The co-founder of popular sci-fi convention DragonCon, Kramer has been facing child molestation charges in Gwinnett for more than a decade. He and an ever-changing squad of high-powered attorneys have managed to delay a trial since 2000 through a litany of motions and medical and religious complaints.
After a two-hour hearing Friday — only half of which the defendant was present for — Beyers denied a motion for bond, ordering Kramer to remain in Gwinnett County jail. It will be a feeling he’s unfamiliar with, having been under various forms of house arrest and travelled to several states (not to mention Israel) since his original incarceration.
“At each step, Mr. Kramer has asked for an accommodation and the courts have tried to accommodate either his religious requirements, his medical requirements or his financial requirements,” District Attorney Danny Porter said Friday. “And yet, Kramer engaged in a pattern of conduct of deception that was only discovered by an arrest in Connecticut.”
“Frankly, I don’t care if his feet fall off,” he added, “we would still oppose bond in this case.”
Despite the arguments of defense attorney Brian Steel, Beyers agreed.
“I find that the defendant has not abided by conditions of bond and it appears to me that he’s not going to do so based on his conduct and the evidence presented,” she said. “He’s been to Kentucky, he’s been to Connecticut, he’s reported by cellphone.”
The multiple counts of child molestation against Kramer stem from allegations initially made in 2000, when 13- and 15-year-old boys came forward to claim he touched them inappropriately starting in 1996, dating their mother and using action figures and comic books to earn their trust. A third boy came forward in 2003.
Amid a constant stream of motions and requests for accomodations, Kramer was let off house arrest in 2008 on the condition he checked in weekly via traceable, landline phones.
In September 2011, he was arrested in Milford, Conn., after reportedly being found alone in a motel room with a 14-year-old boy. Kramer maintains he was acting as the boy’s guardian during the production of a low-budget horror film. He fought his extradition back to Gwinnett for more than a year.
The delay in bringing the case to trial now is that, after Kramer’s team of attorneys filed a request for speedy trial in 2009, Judge Beyers put the future in the hands of the defense by ruling that, when they filed a motion declaring Kramer physically able to attend trial, the case would proceed.
That hasn’t happened yet, but Porter tried his darnedest to prove as much Friday.
Porter called two witnesses during the hearing, both of whom said they had observed Kramer walking unhindered (and with a camera) in 2011.
Krystal Phillips was the makeup artist for the “three-part horror period anthology” that Kramer joined in Milford, Conn. Her hair cut short and bleached blond, big circular earrings matching her blue blouse, Phillips told the court that she watched Kramer stroll through the hilly woods where the movie was being shot.
After a scene where several of the films actors — all but one under 18 — were “slimed,” Phillips said, Kramer tried to help clean them up.
“There just seemed to be something wrong with the situation,” Phillips said.
A second witness, a producer from Louisville, Ky., named Tim Gooch, said Kramer showed up in May 2011 while he and a small team were shooting a “Lord of the Rings” spoof series. Gooch said Kramer “wasn’t gonna run marathons,” but that he saw him walking without oxygen and with minimal help from a cane.
“I saw him do that a couple of times,” Gooch said.
Porter has now filed a motion to get the case placed on a trial calendar, pending medical approval of the defense.
Steel — the newest member of Kramer’s defense team, which includes former U.S. Representative and presidential candidate Bob Barr — said he was brought on to “move the trial in a positive direction.” He guessed that a hearing on the calendar motion could be possible “in two or three months.”
“The court could reasonably lead itself to the conclusion that the only time Mr. Kramer is physically in distress is when he’s facing the consequences of this case,” Porter said. “And frankly I wouldn’t put it past him at this point to be doing something to himself to create these symptoms.”