A prison inmate was convicted of first-degree murder in the strangulation death of a new cellmate last year.
Cambria County jurors deliberated for about two hours Monday before convicting William Cramer, 22, of that charge as well as aggravated assault and assault by a prisoner in the August 2012 death of 28-year-old William Sherry.
Cramer showed no emotion, but his mother and grandmother wept and sobbed into tissues a few rows behind him as the verdict was read.
Prosecutors said Cramer used a torn bedsheet to kill Sherry and tried to make it look like suicide only hours after the victim had been moved into the cell. Dr. Curtis Goldblatt, who performed the autopsy, said Sherry died of strangulation but had been beaten beforehand.
District Attorney Kelly Callihan said she hoped that the verdict would "provide closure for the family."
The defense said Cramer acted in the heat of the moment and didn't intend to kill, so he shouldn't be convicted of first-degree murder.
"It was difficult to overcome the physical evidence, especially the testimony ... about the injuries prior to strangulation," county public defender Ryan Gleason said after the verdict.
Prosecutors said Cramer, who is white, disliked Sherry because he thought he'd fathered a biracial child, something authorities later said wasn't true.