No shows threaten McCraney murder trial

Published: Aug. 8, 2022 at 10:20 PM CDT
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DOTHAN, Ala. (WTVY) - Seating a jury in Coley McCraney’s murder trial has become a struggle because most of those ordered to show up for jury duty didn’t.

McCraney faces charges that he shot 17-year-old Dothan students J.B. Beasley and Tracie Hawlett in 1999, but not charged until DNA implicated him 20 years later.

Also accused of raping Ms. Beasley, he will go on trial next week if enough jurors are selected.

Of 250 prospective jurors who had been summoned only 75 showed up at the Dale County courthouse on Monday and 17 of those were quickly excused for various reasons.

Several of the 58 remaining prospective jurors cited other reasons they should be excused, though most of those were not immediately discharged.

Afterwards, all were questioned individually about their knowledge of this media frenzy, and it is reasonable to assume some will be disqualified due to pretrial publicity.

They were also questioned about their death penalty beliefs.

Prosecutors will insist that McCraney be executed if he is convicted, and the jury will recommend punishment.

But the immediate issue is seating a jury of at least 14, including alternates.

Circuit Judge William Filmore, Sr. had estimated slightly more than 100 would show up.

He said summons are mailed to licensed drivers who have a Dale County address, but some had moved away and not updated their information.

Others almost certainty shirked their responsibility.

But one man went far beyond the call of duty.

Apparently, he had not updated his address but drove 13 hours from Salem, Ohio only to be dismissed because he no longer resides in Dale County, which is required.

This story updated to reflect that several of 58 remaining jurors sought to be excused, not all 58.

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