ELWOOD, Neb. — A Nebraska man sentenced as a teenager to life in prison without parole for the shooting death of his mother has been resentenced.
Darren McCracken, 38, was resentenced Wednesday in Gosper County District Court to no less than 51.5 years and no more than 75 years, the Kearney Hub reported . He received credit for 24 years already served and will be eligible for parole after serving half of the minimum sentence, which will occur within the next year.
McCracken was 13 in 1993 when he fatally shot his mother, Vicky Bray, in her sleep, according to court records. He was the youngest person in Nebraska to be sentenced to life in prison without parole.
McCracken sought the post-conviction relief based on Miller vs. Alabama, a 2012 federal ruling that deemed automatic life terms for juveniles a cruel and unusual punishment and therefore unconstitutional.
McCracken was allegedly physically and sexually abused by his older brother, and was also verbally abused by his mother, said Jacqueline Jones-Peace, McCracken’s defense attorney. That violence and trauma led McCracken to feel overwhelmed, depressed and suicidal, she said.
Jones-Peace also argued that her client has a low risk of violence and is functioning within the normal limits to re-enter society. During his incarceration, McCracken has completed his GED, has accumulated 25 college credits, is learning Spanish and holds a job at Tecumseh State Correctional Institution, Jones-Peace said.
Assistant Attorney General Corey O’Brien of Lincoln said he couldn’t in good conscience seek a life sentence, but emphasized that murder is wrong no matter the age or circumstances of the defendant.
District Judge Jim Doyle said he considered all the factors of McCracken’s situation before resentencing, and that he also had to keep the victim in mind.
Patricia Tate, Bray’s sister, said the family has since forgiven McCracken.
“You have never been out of our thoughts,” Bray said to McCracken. “We have never stopped loving you, and we forgive you.”
Information from: Kearney Hub, http://www.kearneyhub.com/