Ozark police sued for arresting wrong murder suspect

On the eve of Carl Harris’ trial, Dale County prosecutor Jordon Davis discovered that investigators had accused the wrong man.
Published: Aug. 18, 2021 at 10:39 PM CDT
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OZARK, Ala. (WTVY) -A man wrongfully charged in the cold case murder of his estranged wife has filed a $6 million lawsuit against the city of Ozark.

Police accused Carl Harris of killing Tracey Harris whose body was found about 10 miles from her home in the Choctawhatchee River.

She died in 1990, but not until 16 years later did police arrest Carl Harris’ and, even then, those charges did not hold up.

On the eve of his January 2020 trial, Dale County prosecutor Jordon Davis discovered that investigators had accused the wrong man.

A woman Davis contacted as a possible witness told Davis that that her husband, who she is no longer married to, killed Tracey Harris.

Within hours, family friend Jeff Beasley confessed and charges against Harris were dropped.

While attorney David Harrison praises Davis’ pursuit of justice, he claims shoddy police work created the messy situation, though a grand jury indicted Harris.

“In investigating Carl Harris, Jr. as s possible suspect in the death of Tracey Harris, the Ozark Police Department found no blood, no crime scene, no DNA evidence, no marks upon the body of Carl Harris, Jr.,” the lawsuit alleges.

Harrison contends that Harris, who he represents, has suffered irreparable harm.

“(Police) abused the process, they slandered him, and they committed negligence,” Harrison told News 4.

Most of all, he claims, Harris lost a relationship with his daughter who authorities took from his custody immediately after Tracey Harris’ funeral.

The federal lawsuit demands a jury trial and names as defendants the city of Ozark, former police chief Marlos Walker, and Investigator Jimmy Culbreath.

Ozark Mayor Mark Blankenship said Wednesday he had no comment because he had not seen that lawsuit.

Blankenship, who is Jordon Davis’ father, did not become mayor until after Harris had been cleared.

Marlos Walker was dismissed as chief in July.

(The case will be featured on 48 hours, a CBS news program, Saturday, August 21, 2021, at 9 pm Central time. This report, that can be seen on WTVY, originally aired in January).

Copyright 2021 WTVY. All rights reserved.

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