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State of Nebraska v. Jamaal R. Abram

December 21, 2010


Appeal from the District Court for Douglas County: PETER C. BATAILLON, Judge. Affirmed.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Irwin, Judge.




INBODY, Chief Judge, and IRWIN and CARLSON, Judges.


Pursuant to this court's authority under Neb. Ct. R. App. P. § 2-111(B)(1) (rev. 2008), this case was ordered submitted without oral argument. Jamaal R. Abram appeals his convictions and sentences on three charges: attempted first degree murder, use of a weapon in the commission of a felony, and conspiracy to commit first degree murder. On appeal, Abram asserts that there was insufficient evidence to support the attempted first degree murder and conspiracy convictions and asserts that the court imposed excessive sentences on the three convictions. We find that the State adduced sufficient circumstantial evidence to support the convictions, through testimony of others involved in the incident and the victim herself, and in light of the seriousness of the crimes, we find no abuse of discretion in the sentences imposed. We affirm.


The events giving rise to the charges in this case occurred in Omaha, Nebraska, on June 23, 2008. On that date, the victim, Sarah Schramm (Sarah), was at a cemetery visiting the grave of her boyfriend, Tieres Abram, a cousin of Abram, who had committed suicide approximately 1 year prior. While she was at the cemetery, she was confronted by Abram's brother Jerrell Abram and three female companions, and the events giving rise to the charges in this case began. In a light most favorable to the State, the testimony adduced at trial indicates the following happened:

When Jerrell and his companions arrived at the cemetery and observed Sarah at Tieres' gravesite, Jerrell became angry and confronted Sarah; a large portion of Tieres' extended family believed that Sarah was somehow to blame for Tieres' death. According to Jerrell, he used his cellular telephone to call Abram on Abram's cellular telephone. Jerrell testified that if anyone in the family encountered Sarah, he or she was to "get her" to Tieres' mother, because Tieres' mother wanted to talk to her. He testified that Abram instructed him to take Sarah from the cemetery.

Jerrell informed Sarah that she had to go with him, and she resisted. Jerrell grabbed Sarah's belt and pulled her toward his vehicle until Sarah indicated that she would get into the vehicle on her own. Jerrell took Sarah's car keys and gave them to his female companions, along with a pair of sweatpants, and Jerrell instructed the female companions to take the car and to use the sweatpants to avoid leaving fingerprints. Jerrell also broke Sarah's cellular telephone before leaving the cemetery.

Jerrell drove Sarah to various locations over the course of the next several hours. Jerrell and Abram spoke on their cellular telephones on numerous occasions during this time, and Jerrell testified that Abram directed him where to go. Sarah testified that there were numerous brief telephone conversations while she was in the back seat of Jerrell's vehicle. According to Jerrell, he believed the entire time that he was taking Sarah to meet with Tieres' mother and he was waiting to find out where she was. According to Jerrell, Sarah was crying and seemed scared during the time she was in the back seat of his vehicle.

Eventually, Jerrell received a telephone call from Tieres' brother, Rayshawn Abram, on Abram's cellular telephone, directing Jerrell to take Sarah to a location near 56th and Sorenson Streets in Omaha. Jerrell testified that the location was a dead-end street behind an auto repair shop and that when he arrived, he observed Rayshawn's vehicle backed into the end of the dead end. Jerrell did not see anyone in Rayshawn's vehicle, and he parked his vehicle facing Rayshawn's vehicle. Sarah testified that the location was "real isolated" and that "[t]here was really nothing around."

After Jerrell parked, Abram came out of some bushes by the side of the street, dressed all in black and wearing gloves, with a small revolver. Both Jerrell and Sarah testified that they recognized Abram, despite his wearing all black clothing and attempting to hide his identity. When Abram reached Jerrell's vehicle, Jerrell unlocked the doors and Abram pulled Sarah out of the back seat of the vehicle and placed the gun directly against her back. Sarah testified that Abram asked her, "what did you do to my cousin, bitch," and that he nudged her forward with the gun against her back. Sarah testified that she told Abram, "Sauce, why didn't you just talk to me about this? Why didn't you just talk to me about it?" According to Sarah, as soon as she said that, Abram said, "[B]itch, don't say my name, and he pulled the trigger and started shooting [her]." Sarah testified that Abram yelled, "you're gonna die, bitch, or die, bitch" while shooting her.

Abram shot Sarah in the back once, and she fell to the ground. She testified that she did not feel anything after the first shot, but she heard gunshots as he "just kept shooting." Jerrell testified that he believed Abram pulled the trigger five to seven times. Sarah testified that she "just laid there and didn't move" and that she "wasn't trying to breathe." Jerrell testified that Sarah was lying still and that he assumed she was dead.

Abram and Rayshawn then left in Rayshawn's vehicle, and Jerrell left in his vehicle. Jerrell testified that Abram stopped and threw the gun into a storm sewer and that they then went to Abram's mother's house and burned the black clothes Abram had been wearing. Abram, Jerrell, Rayshawn, and another individual then drove around for some time, and Rayshawn indicated that they should not say anything about what happened. Later that night, Jerrell obtained the keys to Sarah's car, covered the steering wheel to prevent fingerprints being left behind, and drove the car to a location on 33d Street in Omaha near Metro Community College, left the car there, and tossed the keys while walking home. ...

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