Closing arguments heard in 2021 Longmont fatal crash case

Oct. 25—Editor's note: This article has been updated to correct Deputy District Attorney Alex Zowin's title.

Closing arguments were heard Wednesday in the trial of James Michael Kramer, charged with first-degree murder in a 2021 Longmont fatal crash in which one man died.

Prosecutors argued that Kramer, 39, acted on his own choice, while defense attorneys stated that the crash was a result of the defendant reacting to a police stop.

Kramer is charged with first-degree murder — extreme indifference in the death of 93-year-old Joe Gold on Oct. 28, 2021 in Longmont.

Kramer is also charged with vehicular eluding resulting in death, vehicular eluding causing injury, vehicular homicide, vehicular assault, second-degree assault with a deadly weapon, reckless driving, possession of a controlled substance, driving under restraint, driving through a red light, two counts of third-degree assault and four counts of violation of bond.

In closing arguments on Wednesday, Deputy District Attorney Alex Zowin told the jury the crash was "entirely avoidable" and Kramer made the choice to be "high on meth, flee from police in a stolen truck and drive recklessly."

"Everything he did created this risk," Zowin said. "He was in control of this situation the entire time and it didn't have to happen."

Defense attorney William Bode rebutted by arguing that Kramer acted in a fight-or-flight response after being stopped by police and having a gun pulled on him. Further, Bode argued that the traffic stop, police commands and the pulling of a gun by police caused a "chain reaction," leading Kramer to flee the scene at a high speed.

"As Mr. Kramer sits in that chair right now he is innocent," Bode said to the jury. "There were biological alterations running through his head like a bolt of lighting."

Bode also stated that Longmont police took part in an unlawful pursuit in which an officer followed Kramer in an undercover police car without sirens on.

"They want you to believe this was a life-or-death situation for Mr. Kramer when there is not evidence to support that," Boulder County Deputy District Attorney Myra Gottl said to the jury. "He sees police officers and his immediate response is to run and to not stop running until he can't because he hits another vehicle and kills Mr. Gold."

The trial was originally scheduled to last two weeks, but closed early Wednesday. The jury started deliberation Wednesday afternoon, and were unable to reach a verdict by the end of the day.

The jury will resume deliberations Thursday.

Police said Kramer was driving in a suspected stolen vehicle when officers attempted to pull him over on Ninth Avenue on Oct. 28 in Longmont.

According to police, Kramer sped away from the attempted stop, causing police to call off the pursuit. About a mile further east, Kramer's vehicle collided with Gold's 2008 Hyundai Santa Fe that was traveling southbound at Ninth Avenue and Pace Street.

Gold was declared dead at the scene.

Longmont police said two other people in a third vehicle were also injured, as was a woman in Kramer's vehicle.

Kramer told police he tried to brake, but that one of his shoes got caught under the brake pedal. Police did find and arrest Kramer without one of his shoes, and a shoe was later found in the driver's side of the vehicle.

But Longmont police said electronic data from the truck Kramer was driving showed that in the five seconds prior to the crash, Kramer was able to slow down from about 60 mph to about 50 mph before hitting the accelerator and getting back up to about 60 mph when the collision happened.