Elwood, Ne. — A former Gosper County man who was 13 when he got a gun and shot his mother was resentenced on Wednesday in Gosper County District court to at least one more year in prison to prepare for an opportunity to become parole eligible. 38 year old Darren McCracken was sentenced to life in prison in 1994 and has been incarcerated in Nebraska prisons for nearly 25 years. District Judge James Doyle sentenced the defendant to 51 & 1/2 to 75 years in prison. McCracken could become eligible to be granted a hearing before the Nebraska Board of Parole in 10 to 12 months. In pronouncing sentence, Judge Doyle described the many factors he took into consideration, including:
Judge Doyle — “I’ve also considered the justice of the case that was mentioned…and the fact that a life was taken. Vicky Bray was your mother, but she was also the many other things that you mentioned to other people. So I also have to consider the victim and the fact that a life was lost in the manner that you just described.”
In a statement to the court, McCracken said there is nothing he can do to bring his mother back or ease his family’s pain except to say he is sorry:
Darren McCracken — “I am sorry that I took her life. I am sorry that I deprived her of the right to grow old. I am sorry that I deprived my family of a mother and grandmother, a daughter, a sister and an aunt. I know being sorry is not enough. I just hope it will provide them with some tiny measure of relief.”
Assistant Attorney General Corey O’Brien said despite the relationship McCracken had with his mother, there was no justification for murdering her and there needs to be a consequence. But O’Brien said the defendant has already been incarcerated nearly twice as many years as his age when he was originally sentenced. O’Brien also expressed hope that he has achieved enough coping skills to avoid re-offending and to be successful. O’Brien said, “It does seem he has turned the corner in life.” O’Brien also wants someone looking over the defendants’ shoulder should he be released.
Defense Attorney Jacqueline Jones with the Equal Justice Initiative, based in Montgomery, Alabama, asked the court to consider McCracken’s exposure to violence and trauma. Jones said McCracken, “was raised in a neglectful and abusive and dysfunctional environment.” Jones said no one disputes that McCracken loved his mother and that she loved him too, but their relationship was dysfunctional, causing him to be even more emotionally immature for his age. Jones also said Darren McCracken was sexually abused and he was physically abused almost daily at the hands of his brother, David. But Jones said Darren’s mother was either unable or unwilling to protect Darren from his brother.