LAWRENCEVILLE — Thirteen years and one day after his original arrest on child molestation charges, a trial has been scheduled for Dragon*Con co-founder Ed Kramer.
At the end of a two-and-a-half-hour hearing filled with medical testimony and questions about medications, Gwinnett County Superior Court Judge Karen Beyers placed Kramer’s case on the trial calendar for the weeks of Dec. 2 and 9. The parameters of “reasonable accommodations” for the defendant’s long-debated health issues are still to be hashed out, but, at least according to one of his defense attorneys, Kramer truly wishes to proceed.
“He wants to go to trial,” attorney McNeill Stokes said after Monday’s hearing. “He maintains he’s not guilty.”
Kramer was originally arrested in Gwinnett on Aug. 25, 2000, after two teen boys (and later a third) made claims that he had molested them. He has avoided trial for more than a decade thanks to a long string of religious, medical and other complaints.
With another installment of the science fiction convention Kramer helped start — but no longer has any connection to — slated to begin Friday in Atlanta, Dr. Lloydstone Jacobs, medical director at the Gwinnett County jail, described his litany of medical issues.
According to Jacobs’ testimony, Kramer suffers from all of the following: pain related to a cervical (neck) fusion; Type II diabetes; psoriatic arthritis; hypothyroidism; asthma; COPD, or emphysema; sleep apnea; narcoplepsy; fluid retention in his feet; “moderate to severe” hearing loss; and a recent bout with staph infections. Jacobs said all of the defendant’s issues are being addressed and controlled with medication or other treatments, and that Kramer rarely complains of any side effects from that long list of medications.
Kramer used a walker to enter the courtroom Monday, breathing heavily even with an oxygen tank. Long black beard and hair topped with a large black yamulke, his hearing aid frequently interrupted proceedings.
Key is the length of time Kramer would reasonably be able to sit attentively in a courtroom for trial. Jacobs deferred the ultimate recommendations to a pair of specialists, but said he didn’t see any reason why Kramer wouldn’t be able to endure two four-hour sessions per day with a 60- or 90-minute break in between.
“If he has the oxygen tank with him, he is able to participate to the extent that anyone else would,” Jacobs said.
Despite the trial being specially set on the calendar, the “reasonable accomodations” to be afforded the defendant are still to be determined pending a separate hearing with the aforementioned specialists, a neurologist and rheumologist that have examined Kramer in the past.
Though defense attorney Brian Steel did most of the talking in the courtroom (with counterpart Bob Barr sitting silently nearby), Stokes spoke to the media afterward. He suggested two-hour periods in the courtroom would be most suitable for his client.
“It’s going to be up to the doctors, we’re not the doctors,” Stokes said. “But typically, and I’ve been with him a lot, he just fades after two hours.”
District Attorney Danny Porter maintained his skeptical stance.
“In fact, (Kramer) is capable of a number of things that he’s previously misled the state about,” he said in court.
A trial would likely last about 10 days.
In a separate hearing also held Monday, Beyers reserved judgment on the habeas corpus, or wrongful imprisonment, claim that Kramer filed in February. Arguing that his client’s bond never should have been revoked in the first place, Steel asked that it be reinstated.
“He is in a horrible physical condition but can be treated locally while he awaits trial,” Steel said.
Kramer has remained in Gwinnett County jail since his January extradition from Connecticut.
His habeas complaint argues that the bond conditions implemented upon his release from house arrest in 2008 — namely, that he not have unsupervised contact with anyone under 16 — were no longer valid because of a 2009 modification. Kramer’s arrest in Connecticut and the subsequent extradition to Gwinnett resulted from his allegedly being discovered in a hotel room with a 14-year-old boy.
Edwin Marger, one of Kramer’s attorneys at the time, testified Monday to corroborate Porter’s assertions that the 2009 modification was not meant to nullify the previously agreed upon conditions of bond.
Judge Beyers gave both sides until Wednesday at 5 p.m. to file their proposed orders on the matter.