Jury challenges could impact McCraney’s murder trial

Only about half of the 250 Dale County residents summoned in Coley McCraney’s upcoming murder trial are expected to show up for jury duty next week.
250 prospective jurors have been summoned in Coley McCraney's upcoming murder trial.
Published: Aug. 4, 2022 at 9:59 AM CDT
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DOTHAN, Ala. (WTVY) - Only about half of the 250 Dale County residents summoned in Coley McCraney’s upcoming murder trial are expected to show up for jury duty next week.

McCraney faces charges that he murdered two Dothan teens and raped one of them.

Some of those summoned are likely excused because of health issues and unavoidable conflicts.

Others may have died, moved away, or did not receive their summons and some have COVID.

These reasons are common and not unique to Dale County.

Of the 120 or so who do appear next Monday, 14 will be chosen to hear days—perhaps weeks—of grueling testimony.

Getting 14 unbiased jurors for McCraney’s case will be challenging.

The 1999 murders of high school students J.B. Beasley and Tracie Hawlett are arguably the most publicized crimes ever in this part of the state and have also received national attention.

From the shocking shootings, to the arrest of a man later cleared, to internet fodder, to self-proclaimed sleuths spewing misinformation, to McCraney’s startling 2019 arrest, banter has been endless.

Hearing of a case is not in itself a reason to be disqualified from jury service, but having an opinion or overwhelming knowledge of a case is reason.

There must be at least 36 who meet qualifications and who have only limited or no knowledge of this bizarre case. Each will be questioned individually by prosecutors and defense attorneys during the jury selection process.

Jury selection begins Monday with McCraney’s trial commencing in Ozark the following week.

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