Suspect Coley McCraney pleaded not guilty Thursday to capital murder charges in the 1999 shooting deaths of J.B. Beasley and Tracie Hawlett.

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, which matched McCraney's DNA to evidence collected from the 1999 crime scene.

Results were also confirmed by the Alabama state lab.

In June a grand jury indicted McCraney on all charges.

"Our client pleads not guilty today, to each case," defense attorney David Harrison said to Dale County Circuit Judge William Filmore. "We reserve the right to file any motions."

The defense expects a trial date in early 2020.

Harrison and Andrew Scarborough, defense attorneys who represent McCraney, believe their client is innocent of the murder charges. McCraney has professed his innocence through attorneys and his wife.

Harrison previously stated in a press conference his client’s DNA only proved he knew one of the victims, and that the DNA did not prove he murdered the two girls.

McCraney is the first person indicted in the 20-year-old case. Another person, Johnny William Barrentine, was arrested in September of 1999, but released on bond when Barrentine's DNA did not match DNA from evidence collected at the crime scene. His case was presented to a grand jury in January of 2000, but the grand jury chose not to indict.

If convicted, McCraney faces either life in prison without parole or death. District Attorney Kirke Adams previously told the Dothan Eagle he would seek a death penalty upon conviction.

Get Breaking News Alerts

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.

Follow Michele Forehand on Twitter @micheleforehan1

Recommended for you

Load comments