Coley McCraney preliminary hearing

Coley McCraney shakes hands with his attorney David Harrison as he enters the Dale County Courthouse before a preliminary hearing on Wednesday.

The attorney for a man charged with capital murder in connection with the 1999 deaths of two Dothan teens provided a glimpse of the man’s potential trial defense during a preliminary hearing Wednesday.

During the hearing in the case of Coley McCraney, charged with capital murder in the 1999 deaths of J.B. Beasley and Tracie Hawlett, defense attorney David Harrison confronted Ozark Police Lt. Michael Bryan repeatedly about the department’s police interrogation of McCraney in the hours following his detention on March 15.

On more than 15 occasions, Harrison asked Bryan if police continued to question McCraney after he sought a lawyer. The law requires police to end the questioning of a suspect after the suspect has been advised of his rights to an attorney and the suspect asserts that right by asking for an attorney.

Bryan said he did not have the transcript of the interrogation, but testified that McCraney asked if an attorney was present on the premises during questioning, but did not specifically ask for an attorney until later.

If McCraney is indicted and the case proceeds to trial, Harrison could file a pre-trial motion to challenge the admissibility of McCraney’s statement to police.

Bryan testified that McCraney told police he did not know the victims.

“He referenced, I believe, that he had never even met them,” Bryan said during a preliminary hearing Wednesday.

The defense for McCraney also repeatedly asked Bryan about detaining McCraney at the questioning site for 25 hours after he sought an attorney.

Testimony in a preliminary hearing is elicited to determine whether probable cause exists to send the case to a grand jury for possible indictment. It is not held to determine guilt.

Further questioning from Andrew Scarborough, who also represents McCraney, indicates the defense plans to aggressively attack the assertion that Beasley was raped in the course of the murder.

Scarborough referenced the arrest of Johnny Barrentine, who was charged with murder in the months following the 1999 killings. Scarborough asked Ozark Police Chief Marlos Walker if Barrentine was charged with rape. Walker said he did not know.

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