Man falsely accused of murdering his ex-wife, files claim against City of Ozark

Carl Harris Jr. talks to the media in front of the Dale County Courthouse on Jan. 13 as his attorney David Harrison (right) and members of his family look on.

OZARK — A man whose charges were dropped just minutes before the start of his January murder trial has filed a $6 million claim against the city of Ozark.

Dale County District Attorney Kirke Adams dropped the charges against Carl Harris Jr. on Jan. 13 after the Ozark Police Department arrested a new suspect, 54-year-old Jeff Beasley of Ozark, in the 1990 death of Tracy Harris.

Police said Beasley has admitted to killing the woman and has been charged with murder.

The police and the Dale County District Attorney’s Office spoke with a witness identified as Beasley’s ex-wife, who informed police that her ex-husband killed Tracy Harris. Ozark police Chief Marlos Walker confirmed Beasley lived in Ozark at the time of the murder and still resided in Ozark when he was arrested in January.

Harris was charged in 2016 in the slaying of his wife. Police arrested Harris in September 2016 in South Carolina, where he had been living for two months, after Ozark police reopened the investigation into the death of Tracy Harris, who had initially been reported missing.

Harris seeks $6 million for alleged mistreatment during the case investigation, malicious prosecution, false imprisonment, emotional distress, and pain and suffering.

Harris’ attorney, David Harrison, said at a January news conference that he was appalled at what the Ozark Police Department’s cold case unit had done to his client’s life with incompetent evidence and that it all could have been avoided in the 1990s if one phone call had been made to the witness who had come forward.

Harrison said the next step will be to file a federal lawsuit in the Middle District of Alabama against the City of Ozark, the investigators and Ozark police Chief Marlos Walker for violating Harris’ constitutional and civil rights.

“Today, everyone is talking about immunity for police officers, but when a police officer is incompetent to do their job, they lose that protection,” Harrison said. “You know, no one — and I mean no one — is upset that my client’s child was taken from him for 30 years. His child was taken from him the day of the funeral. No one has reprimanded or counseled the officer who made the story up that Carl Harris sat on Tracy Harris’ chest and choked her and then took her lifeless body and tossed it in the river. What about that officer?”

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