OZARK, Ala (WDHN) – Monday we learn more about why the most powerful law enforcement officer in the state took on one of the most notorious murder cases on wiregrass.
Attorney General Steve Marshall and Assistant Attorney General Jimmy L. Thomas have joined the indictment against Coley Lewis McCraney. He is accused of killing teenagers Tracie Hawlett and JB Beasley in the summer of 1999
The Dale County Attorney’s Office reached out to Attorney General Marshall for his help in the case following a devastating bicycle accident involving David Emry, in which he was seriously injured.
Emery, Assistant District Attorney for Dale County, was the lead prosecutor in the McCraney case.
Emry will continue to counsel on the case, according to Dale County District Attorney Kirk Adams.
This isn’t the first time prosecutors have been involved in this particular case.
The attorney general’s office supported the investigation, which led to the first discovery of DNA evidence on Beasley’s body, according to a 2019 publication by the attorney general’s office.
Following the discovery of DNA and McCraney’s arrest in March 2019, the Attorney General’s Office released a statement stating:
DNA evidence extracted from Beasley’s body and clothing helped profile the suspect, but despite our best efforts, law enforcement have never been able to find a genetic match — until now.
On Friday, March 15, 2019, members of the Ozark Police Department’s Investigative Division, along with agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Alabama Attorney’s Office* arrested Coley Lewis McCraney in Dale County, Alabama on charges of capital murder and rape.
Press release from the Attorney General of Alabama (2019)
Attorney General Marshall continued in the 2019 release, praising the many agencies that helped with the investigation, including his own office, the Ozark Police Department, the Dale County Sheriff’s Office, the Alabama Department of Forensics and more.
Under Alabama Code 36-15-14, the Attorney General of Alabama has the authority to direct prosecution in any criminal proceeding in the state.
On July 31, 1999, Beasley and Hawlett, both 17, went to a party at Headland.
The next day, the teenagers were found dead in the trunk of Beasley’s car, both with gunshot wounds to the head.
Last week, on November 16, McCraney was denied bail after serving nearly five years behind bars.
McCraney’s trial had been postponed several times due to the COVID-19 pandemic. A trial was imminent in August 2022, but after a jury failed to sit, it was postponed again to April 2023.
Stay tuned to WDHN for updates on this case.