Attorney calls for resignation of police officers who botched murder investigation

(WTVY News 4)
Published: Jan. 14, 2020 at 6:49 PM CST
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The attorney for a man wrongly charged with murder is calling for Ozark police officers to step down after a botched investigation.

“I think everybody that is involved in this case at the investigatory level should resign...absolutely,” David Harrison said Tuesday.

Dale County prosecutors, a day earlier, dismissed murder charges against his client, Carl Harris, after another man, Jeffrey Beasley, confessed to killing Harris' wife, Tracy, in 1990.

“One phone call before this man was arrested could have changed the outcome,” Harrison said during a news conference Tuesday.

He claims police investigators had not spoken with Beasley's then wife since shortly after the discovery of Ms. Harris' body in a south Alabama river. That is, until last week, when she identified her ex-husband as the killer. Police say he confessed.

While condemning investigators, including chiding them for not apologizing to Harris for their mistake, the attorney praised Dale County District Attorney Kirke Adams.

“He expressed his condolences for the (legal) system devastating my client,” Harrison said. He claims police are to blame, not prosecutors.

Harrison also seemed to also raise questions about the cold case investigation that led to the arrest of another murder suspect he represents. Coley McCraney is charged with shooting two Dothan teens in July 1999, about nine prior to Ms. Harris' death. (Updated to reflect 1999 date.)

“It should not only concern me but it should concern everybody because it is the same cold case unit and I'm not going to say another word about it. I don't think it's proper to,” Harrison told reporters.

It may be difficult for him to to link the two cases at McCraney's trial—a date has not been set---on charges he killed 17-year old high school students J.B. Beasley and Tracie Hawlett. Other than investigators, there is no apparent link between the two crimes.

As for Carl Harris, he will return to South Carolina where he now lives in hopes establishing a relationship his daughter, whom he has not seen since murder of his wife, Tracy.

“I want her to give me a call,” he pleaded.

Ozark Police Chief Marlos Walker, whom Harrison did not mention by name, declined comment for this story.