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.

The man accused of capital murder in the 1999 deaths of two Dothan teens was investigated for aggravated assault while in the Air Force five years prior and possessed a weapon similar to one believed to be used in the 1999 killings, according to a military report introduced as evidence in a court hearing Wednesday.

A preliminary hearing was held Wednesday afternoon with Dale County District Judge Stanley Garner Jr. presiding.

McCraney faces three capital murder charges for J.B. Beasley, and two capital murder charges for Tracie Hawlett. His charges stem from DNA test results performed by Parabon Labs in Virginia. Results were also confirmed by the Alabama state lab.

Ozark Police Lt. Michael Bryan testified Wednesday that evidence analyzed from the 1999 crime scene in which the bodies of 17-year-olds J.B. Beasley and Tracie Hawlett were found indicated the two girls had been shot in the head with a 9mm handgun. Bullets and a shell casing retrieved from the crime scene were analyzed by a forensic investigator who narrowed the likely brands of 9mm weapons to three, including Hi-Point.

Dale/Geneva County assistant district attorney David Emery provided Air Force records to Bryan from 1994, purported to be an offense report with charges including aggravated assault consummated on a person under 16 years old, unlawful detention and possession of a concealed weapon. The weapon was listed as a Hi-Point 9mm handgun.

Testimony did not indicate if McCraney was convicted of the charges.

On cross examination, defense attorney David Harrison challenged the report and asserted that McCraney didn’t possess the gun, and added that a civilian associate may have possessed the gun.

Bryan also testified a patrol officer had previously spotted an abandoned vehicle on Herring Avenue on Aug. 1, 1999, located just minutes from the Dale County Courthouse. Roughly around the time the officer was making a call out regarding the abandoned vehicle, the Dothan Police Department was issuing a missing person report on the two girls.

“Officers with the Ozark Police Department and Dothan Police Department located the girls inside the vehicle’s trunk,” Bryan said.

Bryan said the bodies of both victims were transported to the Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences for an autopsy and the vehicle was transported to the Dothan Police Department.

Bryan testified two projectiles were taken from the vehicle along with a 9mm casing. The evidence retrieved was also sent to the Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences.

Bryan testified each girl suffered a gunshot wound to the head resulting in a homicide and that Beasley had been raped.

“The report also showed both victims had gunpowder residue on their hands and heads, showing the victims were shot at close range, within a few feet,” Bryan said.

Other items retrieved from the vehicle include clothing and biological evidence.

DNA found on Beasley matched McCraney, according to police.

Bryan stated once the GEDMatch and Parabon Snapshot results were released to the Ozark Police, police began to investigate McCraney.

“We were able to locate records from the Ozark Water and Alabama Power which confirmed McCraney in 1999 lived less than a mile from the store where the girls were last seen and less than a mile from where the car was located,” Bryan said.

Bryan stated when McCraney was interviewed he gave s different address.

“McCraney did live at that address, but at a later time,” Bryan said.

“This report does not say my client had a handgun in his possession,” Harrison said. “The report does not say that at all. Now, also why is my client being charged with rape?”

Harrison argued the reports released by the Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences did not state either victim was raped.

“You just said my client raped J.B. Beasley,” Harrison said. “The reports state semen was found on JB. That does not prove she was raped,” Harrison said.

According to Harrison, the forensic reports state no trauma to the vaginal area.

“There is no proof my client raped anyone or killed these girls,” Harrison said. “There is no evidence.”

Harrison went on to argue his client was mistreated the night he was arrested.

“Did my client ask for an attorney after he was detained,” Harrison asked. “My client stayed in an interrogation room for 27 hours.”

Harrison stated his client asked for an attorney eight times within an hour.

McCraney is also represented by Andrew Scarborough. Scarborough called Ozark Police Chief Marlos Walker as a witness.

Scarborough asked Walker to inform the courts how he became familiar with Parabon Labs.

Walker stated after learning about the Golden State Killer case and the assistance from Parabon, he decided to contact the lab requesting information.

“After reviewing the information, the DNA sample was sent by FedEx,” Walker said.

McCraney was transported back to the Dale County jail with no bond.

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