McCraney’s wife deals blow to his murder trial defense

As a prosecution witness, Jeanette McCraney told jurors that Coley McCraney went to the last place the two teens police claim he shot were seen alive.
Published: Apr. 21, 2023 at 10:43 PM CDT
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OZARK, Ala. (WTVY) - The harshest blow to suspected killer Coley McCraney’s defense may have come from his wife, who on Friday placed him at the location where the two teens that police say he killed were last seen.

Jeanette McCraney testified that her husband’s car broke down at an Ozark convenience store where victim Tracie Hawlett called her mother about 11:30 on July 31, 1999.

She promised that she and her classmate JB Beasley would be home soon after they became lost while searching for a party in Dale County.

While proclaiming her husband’s innocence, Jeanette McCraney testified that he had left home about 10 o’clock that night and didn’t return until near one o’clock the following morning.

Though unable to pinpoint the exact time, investigators believe Beasley and Hawlett, 17-year-old Dothan students, were shot around midnight after being forced into the trunk of their car.

Retired state agent Barry Tucker testified earlier Friday that the girls’ killer drove them from the unknown shooting scene to Herring Avenue, a seldom traveled and narrow road near Dale Medical Center.

Watch JB and Tracie: The Teen Killers

McCraney lived about a half mile from that location.

However, Tucker, like other investigators, testified that he could not place McCraney at the crime scene and his wife said his clothes were clean when he arrived home, though the victims’ clothes were partially covered in mud.

Not until 20 years later was McCaney’s DNA available after he voluntarily provided a sample to then-Ozark Police Chief Marlos Walker who had received preliminary analysis that indicated an unknown relative of McCraney could be the killer.

Jeanette McCraney said she went to the police department with her husband and urged him to provide the requested DNA in hopes it would help solve the crimes.

Police arrested McCraney several weeks later when forensics experts said that his semen was found on Ms. Beasley, who he is accused of raping.

But McCraney’s attorney, David Harrison, claims their encounter was consensual and occurred soon after he and the teens met near that store where Jeanette McCraney testified her husband left his vehicle that she claims the couple retrieved after he returned home.

Attorney General Steve Marshall, the lead prosecutor, ordered Ms. McCraney to testify.

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