Wayne County Jail inmate kills self day after trial ordered

James David Dickson
The Detroit News

Detroit — A 35-year-old Port Huron man who killed himself at the Wayne County Jail last week had been ordered to stand trial on seven felony charges the day before his death.

Authorities said Kevin Schram hanged himself May 13 with bedding provided by the jail. He'd been housed at the county's division 1 facility at 570 Clinton, in a section of the jail with hourly rounds. 

Kevin Schram

Schram was a new arrival to the jail, officials said. 

He'd been housed at the Charles Egeler Reception and Guidance Center in Jackson until May 11. He'd been at the Michigan Department of Corrections facility since January after being arrested in Port Huron.

Prior to last week, Schram had been in MDOC custody because his arrest over an alleged Dec. 17 drug deal that turned violent was a violation of his 2019 parole on a 2016 drug conviction. 

Wayne County prosecutors charged Schram with assault with intent to murder, assault with intent to do great bodily harm less than murder, firearms possession by a felon, carrying a concealed weapon and three counts of felony firearm.

Prosecutors contend Schram went with a friend to Detroit on Dec. 17 to buy drugs. 

There was a struggle, during which Schram allegedly pulled out a gun and shot a man named Dwayne Parker, before he and his friend left, said Maria Miller, spokeswoman for Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy.

The friend made a statement against Schram and was never charged.

Deputy Chief Dennis Ramel said Schram was found about 1 p.m. He died later that day. His death was ruled a suicide by hanging, according to the Wayne County Medical Examiner's office. 

The News requested Schram's full autopsy but has not yet received it.

The incident occurred as Wayne County Jail officials were completing the relocation of its inmates from the Division 3 jail in Hamtramck to Division 1 downtown. Division 3 typically housed inmates charged with low-severity cases. The Hamtramck jail is the newest of the county's three adult jails.

The jails are being consolidated 18 months ahead of a planned December 2022 move to a new criminal justice complex due to staffing, Ramel added. 

"We can't staff three buildings," he said. "We've had some staffing crisis here for a while."

Chris Gautz, spokesman for the Michigan Department of Corrections, told The News that it's common for the corrections system to hold parole violators on behalf of county jails until they are needed locally.

Following a May 12 preliminary examination before Judge Patricia Jefferson, Schram was ordered to stand trial on all seven counts. 

Last week:'Apparent suicide' at Wayne County Jail; inmates moved from Hamtramck facility

Defense attorney thought case was 'weak'

Schram's defense attorney in the Detroit case, Wendy Barnwell of Eastpointe, said Thursday she felt the state's case against Schram was weak, based largely on Schram's license plate, which was picked up at a Project Green Light gas station, and shaky witness identification.

"I thought I could beat that case," Barnwell said. "Ultimately, you don't beat the case at a preliminary exam."

Barnwell said she is troubled by the sudden turn of events.

"That's what got me. The proximity of time to the death," she said. "The day after? Oh my God."

"One week before the exam, we had an in-depth conversation about the case," Barnwell added. "He was confident."

Schram, she said, had money in his commissary account and was in regular contact with his father before his death. Schram's father could not immediately be reached.

Schram went to prison in April 2010 on home invasion and safe-breaking charges in St. Clair County. He was paroled six years later, in May 2016, according to the corrections department.

Freedom lasted six months before Schram violated his parole and was sent back to prison for cocaine possession in November 2016. He was paroled in February 2019, but jailed again in January on parole violations tied to the Detroit case.