Murder trial of man accused of 1999 Alabama double-murder case begins

Published 9:04 pm Monday, August 8, 2022

Jury selection begins this week in the trial of a truck driver accused of killing two Alabama teenagers in 1999.

Coley McCraney, 48, is charged with capital murder in the slayings of J.B. Beasley and Tracie Hawlett. McCraney has maintained he is innocent.

Hawlett and Beasley, both 17, disappeared after setting off for a party in southeastern Alabama on July 31, 1999. They never returned. Their bodies were found the next day in the trunk of Beasley’s black Mazda along a road in Ozark, a city of 19,000 people about 90 miles (145 kilometers) southeast of Montgomery. Each had been shot in the head.

The case sat for decades until police hired a company to run crime scene DNA through an online genealogy database. Police said they identified McCraney as a suspect by using genetic genealogy techniques. He was arrested in 1999.

A judge ruled that McCraney’s wife, Jeanette McCraney, will be allowed to testify at the trial as an alibi witness for her husband. The trial is slated to begin next week after a jury is selected.