Confessions From Death Row

Thursday, April 26th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

A convicted killer who's been sitting on death row for 11 years says he's ready to come clean about his crime. For the first time ever, Jerry McCracken confesses to what he did inside a Tulsa nightclub more than a decade ago, and where he hid a crucial piece of evidence, information even police didn't know, until now. KOTV’s crime reporter Lori Fullbright has this exclusive 6 on assignment, 'Confessions from death row.'

Big Mac is the toughest prison in Oklahoma. H-unit houses the most vicious criminals ever taken off the streets, those whose crimes require them to die. One of those people is Jerry McCracken. He looks like a killer, but he doesn't sound like one. "I lied in court. I said I did not do it. But, I did. I killed all four people." McCracken isn't confessing because he's days from death, in fact, his execution date hasn't even been set yet. Technically, his case is still on appeal.

He says he's talking because he's become a Christian. "I believe Jesus would want me to tell the truth. That's what I'm doing." McCracken says he read an article once about the victims' family members saying what bothered them most was they'd never know the full truth. That's the only thing he can offer them now, so, here it is. "I said, everybody put your hands in the air. Everyone did. I told the bartender to bring me the money and she did and I grabbed the money and I seen Steve Smith reach for his back pocket and I thought it was a pistol but it was probably just his wallet and I panicked and I shot him and the others." He shot the others in this order, Tyrell Boyd, 37-year-old Tim Sheets and 41-year-old Carole Ann McDaniels. She had put up her hand in fear and tried to run. They, along with Steve Smith were inside Tulsa's New Fern Dale Lounge on October 14, 1990, when McCracken walked in with a fifth of whiskey in his belly, marijuana on his breath and a heart for trouble. "It wasn't planned for me to kill anyone. That wasn't the plan. The plan was to rob the bar."

McCracken says some things were right at the trial, but not others, and he wants to set the record straight. For instance, he was standing in the horseshoe, not behind the bar when he fired the shots, he didn't steal a phone and he didn't get as much money as prosecutors claimed. McCracken understands the victims may never be able to forgive him. And, he realizes many will doubt his sincerity. He says what turned him around was when a man with a prison ministry told him, you might have to die but don't have to go to hell too.

McCracken also confessed to Fullbright, about an arson he did in Virginia in 1989.