McCraney defense moves to have DNA, other evidence tested again

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OZARK, Ala. (WDHN) — The defense for double-murder suspect Coley McCraney filed new motions regarding the case’s evidence Monday.

McCraney was arrested and charged for the 1998 murders of J.B. Beasley and Tracie Hawlett as well as J.B.’s alleged rape before her death.

The motions, signed by attorney David Harrison, ask for evidence to be provided to the defense so it can be examined and tested again by appointed experts, satisfying the higher standards capital murder cases have to prove them..

This includes independent testing of the DNA match between McCraney and the DNA evidence found on J.B. Beasley’s body and clothing.

“Independent testing of the evidence is necessary for counsel to adequately prepare to cross-examine the State’s expert witnesses as well as to present the defense case,” one motion states. “Recent revelations about fraud and mistakes in DNA testing and analysis underscore the importance of independent testing by the defense.”

According to the motions, the DNA is the most crucial evidence in this case, as it is the only thing that connects McCraney to the crime scene in the absence of witnesses and other evidence.

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Tracie (left) and J.B. (right)

Harrison’s motion also points to an article from the New York Times explaining how DNA methods can get innocent people in trouble with the law, leading to the discontinuation of certain methods that were previously used in court.

In addition to a new DNA test, the motions also ask that all clothing, weapons, fingerprints, documents, biological evidence, and other items be given to the defense.

One time included in this list is the Mazda 929 where the girls were found as well as any photo or video evidence that was taken at the scene.

If the state cannot produce any of the listed evidence, then it must say whether it is missing, destroyed, transferred, lost or disposed of.

“For each instance, explain the circumstances surrounding such disposition, identify each person who authorized such disposition, indicate the dates of such authorization and disposition, and identify the evidence and each person or entity that may presently have custody or control of such evidence,” another motion states.

Aside from testing the evidence, the defense also wants McCraney to get to see the crime scene.

McCraney would then be able to speak with his attorneys and discuss the case out of the escorting officer’s earshot.

“The facts of this case make it impossible for the Defendant to describe the scene to his attorneys in sufficient detail to enable counsel to adequately investigate the scene of the alleged crime without his presence,” a third motion states.

The timeliness of this examination is crucial, according to the defense. If it is too late, the scene will have been too different to what it was like back on Aug. 1, 1999.

“Critical questions turn on the precise location and position of several individuals and their vantage points from each location,” the motion states. “Because the crime occurred in July/August, in order to approximate as accurately as possible the type and density of foliage in that area at the time of the crime, counsel requires access to the scene within the next two months.”


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