Man charged in teen deaths once refused to take DNA test

Booking photo from Dale County Jail.
Booking photo from Dale County Jail.(WTVY News 4)
Published: Mar. 17, 2019 at 4:17 PM CDT
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WTVY learned Sunday night David Harrison will be representing Coley McCraney.

Harrison practices law in Geneva and Ozark. He is well-known in the Wiregrass, most notably for representing Ronnie Gilley during his gambling corruption trial.

When we reached out to him, Harrison said he would be filing for a preliminary hearing immediately. He adds that McCraney should be considered innocent until proven guilty.


A man charged with murdering two teens once refused to take a DNA test although, years later, he finally submitted to one. That occurred during a 1999 paternity suit filed by a woman claiming Coley McCraney fathered her child.

A judge ordered the test two days before police found the bodies of J.B. Beasley and Tracie Hawlett in the trunk of their car in Ozark on August 1, 1999. They had been shot and investigators believe one was raped.

In that paternity case, a Dale County judge ordered McCraney to take a DNA test. He refused and because of his refusal, that judge named him the legal father of the child, then a toddler born out of wedlock.

McCraney already had two children from a seven year marriage that ended in divorce. Documents show the couple wed days before his 18th birthday and divorced in 1998.

In the divorce decree, a judge gave McCraney custody of their son and his estranged wife custody of the couple's daughter.

During the marriage, documents show McCraney served in the military. Afterwards, he spent several years as a truck driver, and stayed on the road much of the time.

After he fell behind by $17,000 on his child support, according to records in 2011,so he headed back to court. And at that time, he took a genetic test that revealed a 99.99 chance he fathered the child. It's not known if the DNA test taken by McCraney led to his arrest.

McCraney married soon after Beasley and Hawlett died and seems to have led a quiet life since then, living in Dothan.

State records show he founded a non-profit religious ministry, Spirit and Truth Lifeline Ministries, based in Dothan.