Coley McCraney preliminary hearing

Coley McCraney shakes hands with his attorney David Harrison as he enters the Dale County Courthouse before an April 3 preliminary hearing.

An agreement reached Friday will allow the public and news media to attend proceedings in Coley McCraney’s capital murder case but prohibit defense attorneys and prosecutors from making public statements on the case.

McCraney was arrested in March and charged with multiple counts of capital murder in connection with the 1999 deaths of Dothan teens J.B. Beasley and Tracie Hawlett, who were found shot to death in the trunk of a car on Aug. 1. The two had been missing since the previous night.

Prosecutors filed a motion in June, seeking a broad gag order and closed proceedings related to the case.

Prosecutors contended the goal of the motion was to preserve a neutral jury pool in Dale County. Without judicial intervention, the motion states, it appears that the prospective jury pool will be saturated with thoughts and opinions regarding the facts and nature of this case before a trial begins.

A hearing on the motion had been set for Aug. 8 at the Dale County Courthouse. The pretrial publicity agreement filed with the circuit clerk on Friday was signed by McCraney and attorneys for the prosecution and the defense.

Prosecutors suggested the court consider excluding the public and print and electronic media from all pretrial hearings, prohibit all attorneys, parties, witnesses, law enforcement personnel, and court personnel from releasing information in any form to any agent or employee of any news media, directing that all records and transcripts pertaining to McCraney’s case be sealed until a jury is impaneled, prohibit the use of video or other cameras in court proceedings, and establish clear and precise court order limits.

McCraney’s defense objected to the motion.

BH Media, Inc. (Dothan Eagle), Gray Communications (WTVY), the Alabama Press Association ,and the Alabama Broadcasters Association filed a joint motion to intervene in the case for the purpose of opposing the gag motion filed by the State.

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