Attorneys: Officer spotted with car where murdered teens were found

That is among claims made by attorneys for Coley McCraney, charged in the 1999 shootings of the high school students.
Coley McCraney as he's led into the Dale County courthouse. He's charged with the murders of...
Coley McCraney as he's led into the Dale County courthouse. He's charged with the murders of Dothan teens Tracie Hawlett and J.B. Beasley.(Source: WSFA 12 News)
Published: Dec. 21, 2021 at 7:50 PM CST
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DOTHAN, Ala. (WTVY) -A bizarre murder has become more intriguing.

Attorneys for suspect Coley McCraney claim they have evidence suggesting an Ozark police officer may have killed two Dothan teens more than 20 years ago.

Andrew Scarborough and David Harrison say an eyewitness saw that unnamed officer with a car, 86 feet from the spot where Tracie Hawlett and J.B. Beasley’s bodies were found inside that vehicle a few hours later. Those teens, high school students from Dothan, had been shot.

That claim is among several Harrison and Scarborough make in a motion responding to a prosecutor’s request that rumors, including the police officer theory, not be permitted in McCraney’s trial.

Prosecutors: Bar speculation that others, not Coley McCraney, killed Dothan teens

Those defense attorneys also say other evidence suggests that McCraney has been wrongfully charged.

“The defense expects to call a witness that was at a Christmas party approximately five months after the murders and overheard an Ozark police officer admit to killing the victims,” Scarborough and Harrison wrote in their court motion.

It is unclear whether the attorneys are referring to the same officer in both instances.

Police arrested McCraney in 2019, claiming DNA they had recently obtained implicates him.

The murders of those 17-year-olds shocked Alabama and the case received national attention, featured on several television crime programs.

Ms. Hawlett and Ms. Beasley, killed in 1999, had left Dothan to attend a party a few miles away, but they never showed up. Later that night, Ms. Hawlett called her mother from an Ozark pay phone to tell her they had become lost, but promised to be home soon. They never arrived.

About 9 a.m. the following day, Ozark police found their car parked on a vacant lot though, not until several hours later, did they open the trunk and discover those bodies.

A few weeks after the crimes, officers arrested Johnny William Barrentine, now deceased, on charges that he killed the 17-year-old girls but later released him, citing lack of evidence.

Scarborough and Harrison believe that arrest should be considered by jurors, but prosecutors argue it is not relevant to McCraney’s case.

Dale County Assistant District Attorney David Emery believes rumors—and there are dozens---have no place in the trial, scheduled in May.

Rumors surrounding Ozark officers have persisted since the murders, but authorities have said they lack substance.

Dale County Circuit Judge William Filmore will rule on the motions, though a timetable for that ruling is unclear.

McCraney is held without bond in the Dale County Jail.

Copyright 2021 WTVY. All rights reserved.

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