A former Gothenburg man convicted of murdering a police officer awaits his resentencing. Eric McCain was convicted of the shooting death of Gothenburg Police Sergeant Glenn Haas and sentenced to life in prison without parole on Nov. 9, 1990. McCain was 17 at the time. During a hearing in Lexington, witnesses testified McCain, now 43, has developed skills while working in the prison wood shop and has deep remorse for taking the life of the officer. District Judge Donald Rowlands has set McCain’s resentencing hearing for Nov. 3. Lawyers are to submit briefs by Oct. 27. A clinical psychologist testified research indicates the juvenile brain is still maturing in the teen years and reasoning and judgement are under development until age 25 or older. McCain listened to Thursday’s testimony intently, but did not testify.
Dawson County Attorney Liz Waterman talked to the RRN about the length of sentence she would like to see the judge impose on Eric McCain…
Carl Purcell, Cornhusker State Industries Supervisor testified that McCain has developed skills in the woodworking shop that would be valuable if he were to seek employment outside the prison.
Terry Thacker who has been involved in prison minstry for 30 years testified that when Eric McCain entered the prison system, he had trouble with authority and was angry with society. Thacker says McCain became a born again Christian who now understands why he’s in prison and is remorseful for taking Sgt. Haas’ life. Thacker says McCain started out at the Lincoln Correctional Center, but was moved to the Tecumseh State Correctional Institution after 2010.
Eric’s father, Dennis McCain, says his son had difficulty making friends while growing up and started running with the wrong group in his teens, a group that had trouble in school and with the law. Dennis McCain says he saw a tremendous change come over his son about 15 years ago when God became the strongest element in his son’s life. At one time, he didn’t want his son released from prison, but now has no concerns about his behavior and wants him to have a chance at living and working on the outside.
Licensed clinical psychologist Dr. Kirk Newring spent the afternoon discussing research which indicates the juvenile brain is still maturing in the teen years and reasoning and judgement are under development until age 25 or older. Dr. Newring testified that’s why the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in June 2012 in Miller vs. Alabama that juveniles convicted of murder cannot be subject to a mandatory sentence of life imprisonment without the possibility of parole. Dr. Newring testified that based on an evaluation he conducted, Eric McCain has a low risk of future acts of violence. He also testified that McCain qualifies for post-conviction relief under the Miller case.
District Judge Donald Rowlands of North Platte said he has already received a number of letters from law enforcement and others interested in the sentence that he will impose and encouraged those in the courtroom who want to provide testimony to do so in the form of a letter submitted to the court. Judge Rowlands also said there will be no live testimony from witnesses at the sentencing hearing.