OZARK — Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall will prosecute the Ozark man charged with five counts of capital murder and one count first-degree rape in connection with the 1999 death of two Dothan teens.
Marshall and Assistant Attorney General Jimmy Thomas will represent the state in the impending trial of Coley McCraney, who has been in Dale County Jail on no bond since his March 16, 2019, arrest.
The attorney general’s office is taking the case at the request of the 33rd Judicial Circuit District Attorney Kirke Adams, Marshall’s communication director Mike Lewis said Tuesday. Adams declined comment citing a judicial “gag order” in connection with the case.
In a court document filed with Dale County Circuit Court Clerk Delores Woodham last Friday, Marshall requested that all court orders, pleadings, and dockets be forwarded to his Montgomery office.
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The new trial for McCraney is set to start April 17, 2023. Dale County Circuit Judge William Filmore set the trial date last Wednesday, the same day he also denied McCraney’s request for bond.
Marshall was among law officers present at the 2019 press conference held at the Ozark City Hall announcing McCraney’s arrest in the 20-year-old cold case shooting deaths of J.B. Beasley and Tracie Hawlett, whose bodies were found in the trunk of Beasley’s car parked on Herring Avenue in Ozark.
“Today, all who have sought justice for Tracie Hawlett and J.B. Beasley — including all the residents of the Wiregrass — are finally near closure in this long and painful case,” said Marshall in a written statement after McCraney’s arrest in 2019. “For two decades the families of Tracie Hawlett and J.B. Beasley have sought answers and a suspect in the unsolved brutal murders of their 17-year-old girls.
“DNA evidence recovered from Beasley’s body and clothing helped to create a profile of the suspect, but despite our best combined efforts law enforcement were never able to find a genetic match — until now,” Marshall said at that time.
McCraney, then a resident of Dothan, had no prior criminal record which would have previously provided his DNA profile to law enforcement in the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS) run by the FBI, Marshall said. “McCraney has remained anonymous to investigators until new DNA testing of forensic evidence utilizing family genetic analysis finally led law enforcement to McCraney as a suspect.”