WARNING: This story contains details not suitable for all readers.
FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) — A jury has found a man guilty of killing and dismembering another man in Fort Wayne in April 2021.
Wednesday morning, a jury convicted Mathew J. Cramer II on charges of Murder, Abuse of a Corpse, and Resisting Law Enforcement in the April 23, 2021, killing of Shane Nguyen, 55.
Afterward, a jury recommended Cramer be sentenced to life without parole.
This is a breaking news update. This story will be updated.
The jury in the dismemberment trial broke just before 3 p.m. Tuesday. Jurors will be sequestered at a local hotel Tuesday night and resume their deliberations Wednesday, according to the Allen County Prosecutor’s Office.
The jurors must decide if Mathew Cramer, 22, committed murder when he killed Shane Nguyen, 55, on April 23, 2021. His defense attorney said he acted in a panic and was the victim of a sexual predator. It was not murder, said Robert Scremin, his attorney.
But prosecutors Tom Chaille and Tesa Helge says Cramer was well aware of what he was doing and is guilty of murder. He was also charged with abuse of a corpse and resisting law enforcement.
Once again, jurors in the dismemberment trial watched the horrific act during closing arguments.
Perhaps, the prosecution didn’t want to take any chances and made it part of the presentation Tuesday morning. Two of the victim’s relatives left sobbing.
Cramer, 22, accused of killing and dismembering Shane Nguyen’s body with a machete, stands in the darkness of the storage unit. Then, lit by flashlight, he awaits his cue, removes his jacket and starts to hack at the 55-year-old food truck operator’s body. It took 43 blows to sever the head, Chaille, chief counsel for the Allen County Prosecutor’s office, said. Then Cramer shoved it out of the way with his foot.
If Cramer is convicted of murder, the jury will still have to decide whether or not Cramer deserves to be sentenced to life without parole.
Cramer admitted to killing Nguyen on April 23, 2021, after he’d had enough of Nguyen’s sexual advances. Cramer’s attorney, Robert Scremin, said Nguyen knew his prey – a young, homeless, jobless and directionless kid with a learning disability.
But the rides and dinners from Pizza Hut and McDonalds’ came with a price. Cramer had capitulated to the request for sex at his storage unit earlier in April, but on April 23, desperately in need of a ride, he played along and then snapped, Scremin said.
Back at the storage unit, Cramer said Nguyen took off his shirt as the two sat in the back seat of Nguyen’s van, and then casually mentioned that he bring his nieces on the next sexual encounter.
Cramer put him into a choke hold and “exploded on him.” He just didn’t include everything during his police interview with homicide detective Donald Lewis because he was embarrassed, Scremin said.
Cramer dragged his victim into the storage unit, stomped on him, broke his nose and then either hit his head on the concrete floor or hit him on the head with blunt force to make sure “he wouldn’t wake up.” At that point, foam was coming out of his mouth, Cramer apparently said.
Details were repeated of Cramer taking Nguyen’s van to his friend, Jacob Carreon-Hamilton, in Elkhart and those two plus another “brother,” Cody Clements, buying shovels, a hacksaw, machete, gloves, tarp and other items needed to perform the macabre task of dismemberment. The items were purchased with the money Cramer stole from Nguyen, taken from his pockets after he was killed.
“There’s no justification,” Helge said during closing arguments. “He’s responsible for what he did.” Helge argued that Cramer graduated from high school and was “capable of making his own choices,” even saying he was the “mastermind” of the crime.
Chaille said it was a bizarre world for a prosecutor because Cramer “admitted to literally everything.” If it wasn’t during the police interview, it was the store video cam at Lowe’s and Walmart in Goshen where Cramer, Carreon-Hamilton and Clements bought the supplies.
“There he is at the register with a machete in his hand,” Chaille remarked. But prosecutors skipped over the sexual part of the relationship that Scremin made central to his argument.
The sex was what fed the anger of a young man, not only learning disabled but with a chromosome deficit, as he earlier told the jury. After the first ride, Cramer apparently offered him money and Nguyen said that wasn’t what he wanted.
“I don’t want money. I want to “—- your dick,” Nguyen allegedly said, according to Scremin, repeating the line as he had earlier in the trial. He asked the jury to separate the death, done in the “heat of the moment”, from the dismemberment, carried out under the direction of Carreon- Hamilton.
Although the prosecution doesn’t have to prove a motive, motives matter, Scremin said. “The prosecutor will say they don’t have to prove motive, but that doesn’t mean that motive doesn’t matter. Motive matters.”
Throughout the trial, Nguyen’s widow, Don Nguyen, has sat in the front row. Two family members or close friends have been by her side along with Victim Assistance. Tuesday, Don witnessed the dismemberment video and stayed. The two other women left sobbing.
Chaille reminded jurors that Don had “blown up” her husband’s phone the night he didn’t come home. After that, the popular Bishop Dwenger band dad was mourned by the entire school community. A GoFundMe organized by a relative raised $298,000 in almost no time. The case was widely published in national and international news.
Earlier reporting revealed that Cramer grew up in Elkhart and attended Elkhart Memorial High School, but was kicked out. He spent time at Bashor Children’s Home in Goshen and played basketball there. He kept in touch with Lifeline Ministries in Goshen, but preferred to remain homeless rather than take orders from anyone.
The Allen County Coroner could only remember two dismemberments in Allen County, one in 2009 when the remains of a California man were found in some woods and the grisly discovery of a nine-year-old girl, Aliahna Marie Maroney-Lemmon in 2011.