Sentencing phase of McCraney trial begins

Coley McCraney in the courtroom 2023
Coley McCraney in the courtroom 2023
Published: Apr. 27, 2023 at 9:42 AM CDT|Updated: Apr. 27, 2023 at 2:12 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

OZARK, Ala. (WTVY) - The jury is deliberating.

Closing Arguments: Defense

1:44 p.m. Scarborough addressed the jury, telling them that the witnesses they heard from today said that “Coley McCraney still has value.” He spoke about the boy who was incarcerated with McCraney and how he helped him to God. “The choice you’re making is life or death,” Scarborough said. “As attorneys, our heart goes out to Ms. Beasley and Ms. Hawlett. My heart goes out to them because of the memories they’ve lost with their children. But taking a father away from his children doesn’t fix it.” Scarborough said that his children should have the opportunity to be in his children’s lives, “whatever that may look like.” He pointed out that McCraney does not have a prior criminal record. “That man has value...He has value to others. He can make good in other people’s lives. Allow him to continue to do that.” He asked the jury to “wholeheartedly consider the testimony today.” “Before you make your choice, consider the value that this man has to offer,” Scarborough finished.

Closing Arguments: Prosecution

1:39 p.m. Marshall addressed the jury, explaining that McCraney had 20 years free after committing these crimes. “The man you heard about today is very different from the man you’ve heard about the past two weeks. That man was not a Godly man,” Marshall said. Marshall stated that man was “a rapist and a murderer.” He spoke about how JB and Tracie were children who never got to live. “A majorette and a ballerina,” Marshall described Tracie and JB. He urged the jury to “exercise the judgement they have so far.” He finished by stating that they would “respect whatever choice” the jury makes.

Impact Statement: Alicia McCraney, McCraney’s daughter

11:42 a.m. “I’m very close with my father. We have a very similar personality,” Miss McCraney said. She described the “loving” household that she grew up in. “He’s never been aggressive toward anyone,” Miss McCraney said. She spoke about her father’s spirituality. “They were very loving to each other. They never argued in front of us. They had a rule to never go to bed angry,” Miss McCraney said. She explained that she and her father write letters to each other as often as possible. “I know that one day he will see the life that I’ve made for myself,” Miss McCraney testified. “Time is something you can’t get back and I have a long life ahead of me. I want him to be there to see it.”

Impact Statement: Jeanette McCraney, McCraney’s wife

11:31 a.m. “He’s very family oriented,” she said. “He’s a great father.” Mrs. McCraney said they have a total of 6 kids and he’s close with them and their 12 grandchildren. Mrs. McCraney spoke about how McCraney helped children and families in need. Mrs. McCraney looked at photos of their grandchildren and other family pictures. She spoke about how two of their children were chosen to be “distinguished children,” because of their grades and religious beliefs. She spoke about how McCraney was chosen as the “Driver of the Region.” “More than life,” Mrs. McCraney responded to Harrison’s question about if their children and grandchildren love McCraney. “He’s a good man. His children need him. I need him. My heart goes out to that family, I hate what they’re going through, but our family, we need him. I love you Coley,” Mrs. McCraney said.

Impact Statement: Cody Kelly, former inmate with McCraney

11:24 a.m. “He did a lot for me. He was a great person to be around, to talk to,” Mr. Kelly said. He talked about how McCraney held Bible classes in the jail everyday. “He introduced Christianity to me again,” Kelly testified. He stated that McCraney impacted his life “a great deal.” “I would say I was not saved before. I would say he saved my soul,” Kelly said. “I’ve never met a better man than Coley McCraney,” he said.

Impact Statements: Mitchell Barnhill, jailer at Dale County Jail

11:23 a.m. “He’s a good inmate, never caused a problem,” Mr. Barnhill said.

Impact Statements: Harvey McCloud, supervisor at Dale County Jail

10:53 a.m. “Super great. One of the best inmates we have, if not the best,” Mr. McCloud said. He explained how McCraney has Bible classes in the jail, helping the other inmates find God.

Impact Statements: Boyd Fuller, McCraney’s cousin

10:44 a.m. Mr. Fuller talked about how McCraney travelled with him to “sing the Gospel.” “He was devoted to what we were doing for Christ,” Mr. Fuller said. He recounted how McCraney became a pastor. “I was there when he preached his initial touched me,” Mr. Fuller explained. “Coley is a great family man,” Mr. Fuller said after Harrison asked what kind of relationship McCraney had with his family. “I feel like he can do a lot more good whether its here or in that jail cell.”

Impact Statements: Pamela Williams, McCraney’s aunt

10:36 a.m. Mrs. Williams spoke on the “great relationship” between McCraney and his children. She said he always wants to talk about his kids and grandkids. “He loves to sing,” Mrs. Williams said. She said that McCraney was “very faithful” and that he was always at church. “He brought us joy and peace,” Mrs. Williams believes that McCraney would still make an impact even if he were placed in prison for the remainder of his life. “He’s a very special person. He loves his family,” Mrs. Williams said. She recounted how McCraney’s sister passed while he was in jail awaiting trial and he wrote a letter to his wife encouraging her. He is a man of God.” She spoke about how McCraney would be a help to people no matter where is his.

Impact Statements: Sidney Miller, neighbor of McCraney

10:27 a.m. Mr. Miller described McCraney having an “upstanding” family life. Mr. Miller talked about how he and McCraney organized a neighborhood watch to keep everyone safe. “It wasn’t just going to church because his parents did but because he wanted to,” Mr. Miller said of McCraney. “There were times when [Jeanette] couldn’t be strong, [McCraney] would be strong for her,” Mr. Miller said. He said that he asks himself while raising his kids, “What would Coley do,” because he looks up to McCraney’s way of parenting. Scarborough asked if Mr. Miller would continue a relationship with McCraney if he were in jail for life. Mr. Miller said that he would still talk to him and seek advice from him. “I would trust him with that,” Mr. Miller said after Scarborough asked his Mr. Miller’s children would still seek out McCraney’s advice.

Impact Statements: Randy Saffold, friend of McCraney

10:21 a.m. “He’s very kind. He’s a very humble person,” Mr. Saffold said of McCraney. “He’s always been great.” He described the relationship between McCraney and his wife as “adorable,” and as “something everybody wants to have.” He said that he would maintain a relationship with McCraney if he were incarcerated. He said that McCraney could make an impact on people in the prison. “He deserves a chance. He could help someone,” Mr. Saffold finished.

Impact Statements: Chancy Smith, friend of the McCraney family

10:14 a.m. “Kind, gentle, soft, would give anyone the shirt of his back,” Mrs. Smith stated of McCraney. Mrs. Smith explained how McCraney helped her through her divorce and how he prayed with her. “My children think the world of Coley,” she said. Mrs. Smith said that McCraney is a Godly man and “great Godly leader.” “He is so proud of his children,” she said of McCraney. Harrison asked if she would maintain a relationship with McCraney, she said “absolutely.” She teared up addressing the jury stating that she loves him and is “thankful for his Godly guidance.”

Impact Statements: Sharla Godwin, friend of the McCraney family

10:06 a.m. “I have been around Coley for 20 plus years,” Mrs. Godwin said. “I’ve always known him to be peaceful, quiet, a family man.” She said that she wants McCraney to know she loves him and supports him. “He’s extremely peaceful, funny,” Mrs. Godwin said. She began crying when she mentioned that McCraney missed her child’s wedding. Mrs. Godwin talked about McCraney’s involvement in the church. “He’s raised very strong children,” Mrs. Godwin said speaking of McCraney’s son who is preparing to graduate college. “Coley’s just a great guy,” Mrs. Godwin said. “I pray for your family every day, Coley,” she addressed to him as she walked back to her seat.

Impact Statements: James Fuller, cousin of Coley McCraney

9:55 a.m. “He never hesitated to give to the next person,” Mr. Fuller said. He described McCraney as being kind. He recounted a story of going to a restaurant to watch a football game. Mr. Fuller said a woman was being rude to him at the restaurant and “Coley reached out and grabbed my hands and started praying for me, that we would get out of that situation without an incident.” He said that showed him that “Coley was a strong man, he believed in God.” Mr. Fuller told another story of how he wanted to start a non-profit and how McCraney came with Mr. Fuller to buy a family something to eat. He detailed how McCraney always wanted to help people and he sang a song for the family who had just lost their father. “This man is Godly driven,” Mr. Fuller stated. Harrison asked Mr. Fuller about McCraney’s relationship with his wife Jeannette. “They love each other,” Mr. Fuller said. “I love him,” Mr. Fuller stated. “No one can change that. This man got good in him.” Mr. Fuller said that McCraney is a good resource for the community whether in the community or in prison.

Impact Statements: Cheryl Burgoon, JB’s mother

9:51 a.m. “I thought I knew the meaning of devastation, trauma, and being broken,” Mrs. Burgoon said tearfully. “I have a hole inside of me.” Mrs. Burgoon said she did very little after JB’s death. “It’s not something you get over,” she said. “I exist without her.” Mrs. Burgoon wept before going back to her seat in the courtroom.

Impact Statements: Carol Roberts, Tracie’s mother

9:42 a.m. “I think the hardest thing we’ve had to go through was holidays. There was an empty chair that Tracie should have been in,” Mrs. Roberts said. “We turned the Christmas tree into an angel tree because that’s what Tracie was.” Mrs. Roberts said that Tracie was her best friend and her daughter. “My first Mother’s Day without her, I went to a cemetery and sat on the ground where she was buried and I talked to her. I felt like she was telling me Happy Mothers’ Day,” Mrs. Roberts said tearfully. She talked about trying to shield her other children and keep their lives as normal as possible. Mrs. Roberts talked about how at one of her son’s weddings they placed flowers where Tracie would have stood. “I never got to go with Tracie to pick out a wedding dress,” Mrs. Roberts said. She said she prayed everyday for God to get her through the day and thanked Him every night for getting her through. “We didn’t have any family who lived here in Dothan so it was just me and my husband and our boys,” Mrs. Roberts explained. “I was blessed for having Tracie for 17 years. I learned a lot from her.” Mrs. Roberts said she was proud to be Tracie’s mother and she has “wonderful, beautiful memories of her.”


9:31 a.m. Attorney General Steve Marshall addressed the jury, thanking them for their “adherence to the law,” and for their help in finding justice for JB and Tracie. He explained what that during questioning, each member of the jury stated that punishment should be decided on a case by case basis. “The family of JB and Tracie trust you to make the right decision,” Marshall said. Marshall told the jury that they would hear from people impacted by this case.

9:34 a.m. Defense attorney Andrew Scarborough addressed the jury, telling them that there are only two options, life without parole or death. “The issue of guilt or innocence is done, we’re not here to argue about that,” Scarborough said. He explained “mitigating factors” to the jury. “There is nothing automatic about the death penalty. If there was, you wouldn’t be here right now,” Scarborough told the jury. “This is a very, very critical part of this.” He stressed that the decision was an individual choice by each juror. Scarborough urged the jury to choose live in prison. “He will be in prison for the rest of his life...It will be forever,” Scarborough told the jury. He told the jury that they will hear from members of McCraney’s family, “those who value his life.”

Subscribe to our News 4 newsletter and receive the latest local news and weather straight to your email every morning. Get instant notifications on top stories from News 4 by downloading our mobile apps.