J. Nicholas Cramer

VIRGINIA — The jury trial for J. Nicholas Cramer, 54, of Mora in the 2019 death of Frank Meyer of Makinen is now set to start on Oct. 3 in Sixth District Court in Virginia, court documents say.

Jury selection is set to start Sept. 28 and last three days, while the trial itself is scheduled to run from Oct. 3-21.

Meyer was found dead in his Makinen garage on Oct. 8, 2019, after a welfare check. Court records indicate he had been "physically assaulted, bound and shot." Based on cell phone use, it was determined he had likely been killed on the evening of Oct. 2, the criminal complaint said.

According to charging documents, Cramer and his wife, 48-year-old Michelle Lynn Cramer, had previously lived on Meyer’s property in a camper before being asked to leave following an allegedly loud altercation between the victim and the accused in the early morning of Sept. 30, prompting a neighbor to phone the police. A neighbor found the camper in the middle of the road and invited the Cramers to leave it on his property where it stayed as of Oct. 9, according to the criminal complaint.

Authorities investigating the incident found .22-caliber cartridge cases and two bloody pipes that were consistent with Meyer’s injuries. According to the complaint, DNA on one pipe allegedly matched J. Nicholas Cramer with “99.9999999997% certainty.”

In June 2020, Cramer and his wife were charged with intentional second-degree murder in the death of Meyer, who was 47. Prosecutors dismissed second-degree murder charges against Michelle Cramer in October 2020. J Nicholas Cramer was also denied an attempt to dismiss charges.

The Midwest Medical Examiner’s Office performed a postmortem examination of Meyer and determined the manner of his death was homicide with the cause identified as multiple gunshot wounds, blunt force trauma, and suffocation, court documents say.

In the criminal complaint, Cramer made a statement to law enforcement saying he last spoke to Meyer on Oct. 2, 2019. “He was with Meyer on Meyer's property, and left sometime before 10:00 p.m. According to the defendant, he last saw Meyer walking from his house to his garage. A ping of defendant's cell phone reveals that defendant was in the area of Meyer's residence until 9:50 p.m. on Oct. 2, 2019, followed by ping locations traveling southbound on Highway 53,’’ which is corroborated by surveillance video from a gas station south of Eveleth.

A search of cell phone records allegedly showed J. Nicholas Cramer had called his wife five times between 7:05 p.m. and 7:37 p.m. on Oct. 2. The complaints state that Michelle Cramer told police she had lost her phone on Meyer’s property and they were trying to locate it, but investigators said two of the calls were of a “significant duration” that were inconsistent with that account.

Investigators recovered a fired .22-caliber cartridge case and two .22-caliber rounds in the Cramer RV on Oct. 9, according to the charging documents. They further said they spoke with a man who claimed he sold J. Nicholas Cramer a Ruger SR .22 in 2019 and took police to a testing location where they recovered six cartridges that were later matched to the ones found in the Cramers’ camper and Meyer’s garage.

The second-degree murder charge, a felony, carries a maximum sentence of 40 years in prison.

​​Judge Robert Friday will hear the case.

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