THE SAGA OF Kramer vs. Kramer and the couple's red Corvette continued in court yesterday.
After a preliminary hearing, John Kramer, 50, was held for trial on all charges in connection with the day he allegedly drove the sports car into the murky Delaware River, dumping it there.
At the start of the hearing, Stephanie Kramer, also 50, sat in the witness chair and pointed to the man she called her "estranged husband." She appeared calm, and he, dressed in a green collared shirt and jeans, sat at the defense table looking at her.
She said she had obtained a temporary protection-from-abuse order against her husband in June, and a final one Oct. 27.
Under questioning by Assistant District Attorney Maryellen Fields, the wife said between that period, her husband had violated the order several times.
Then, on the weekend before Nov. 10, her husband was "acting erratic," she said.
Evidence in the hearing and previous Daily News stories indicate that on Nov. 10, the husband wanted the couple's minivan that was parked behind their Holmesburg house, which he was legally barred from visiting, per the protection order. In exchange, Stephanie wanted the 'Vette, not to drive it but because she didn't want him having both vehicles. The couple has been locked in a bitter, three-year divorce dispute.
At the time, John Kramer was staying at his mother's house in Mayfair. Under cross-examination by defense lawyer Katherine Dickey, Stephanie Kramer agreed that although the Corvette was registered in her name, her husband had bought it for $3,600, that it was in his possession and he had the keys for it. The wife said she paid for the car's insurance and upkeep.
About 3:30 p.m. on Nov. 10, John Kramer drove the Corvette into the Delaware River near Magee Avenue and State Road in Tacony. Cops arrested him at his mother's house on Nov. 12.
In a statement he gave to cops that day, he said that on Nov. 10, he had pleaded with his wife to give him the minivan. "I told her that I needed the van to pick up the girls from the strip club and make about 10 bucks a girl," he said. "They all know me and trust me. It's better than getting into cabs and they all hit on them."
(A source said after the hearing that John worked as a private driver for women who worked at the Penthouse Club.)
"She said you've got to give me the Corvette," he added in the statement, read in court by Detective John Hughes of the Northeast Detective Division. Kramer said he didn't want to give his wife the 'Vette because he didn't want their 17-year-old daughter's boyfriend to "destroy it."
Stephanie Kramer testified that she got a text message from John at 12:16 p.m. Nov. 10 saying he wanted "the van now or I'll put the 'Vette in the river" and tell police it was stolen.
At 3:28 p.m., she said he texted their 17-year-old daughter, "In 2 minutes, you can find the 'Vette in the Delaware. LOL."
John Kramer, in his statement, said he drove the Corvette to a dirt road by the river, an area "where the water was deep enough." About 50 yards away from the water, he "floored it," he said. He planned to jump out of the car about 20 yards before reaching the water, but then he realized when he "bailed out," he was already in the water. After getting out, he told a man who saw him not to call police.
Police Officer Frank Kubach, of the Marine Unit, testified that he and a partner dived into the "very murky," debris-strewn river later that day to get the car and make sure no one was inside.
Municipal Judge Frank Brady held Kramer for trial on all charges - criminal mischief, a felony, in relation to the car; misdemeanor charges of harassment and contempt in relation to the wife; and two misdemeanor counts of recklessly endangering a person in connection with the two Marine Unit divers.
Kramer remains in custody after his bail was revoked in December by a different judge.