OZARK, Ala. (WDHN) — Jeanette McCraney, wife of murder suspect Coley McCraney, maintained her husband’s innocence in a press conference Wednesday.
Coley McCraney was arrested over the weekend after a DNA match was made in the nearly 20-year-old cold case murders of Tracie Hawlett and J.B. Beasley. However, his wife doesn’t believe he committed the crime.
“I’m here to shake the image that has been set up of my husband,“ she said.
Jeannette McCraney was there on Jan. 24 when Ozark police brought Coley McCraney in to look at a family tree from a list of potential DNA tests. According to her, Coley McCraney didn’t know anyone on the tree and was asked to submit a DNA test to help broaden the search.
“Well, of course, he asked my permission for everything and said, ‘What do you think about it?’ But first, he said, ‘Do I need a lawyer?’“ she said.
Jeannette McCraney said police told them there was no need for a lawyer since they only meant to broaden a search. Police later called Coley McCraney in again, asking him to look at another list.
“I think it was taken under false pretenses,“ she said. “That’s just my opinion.“
Jeannette said she actually encouraged her husband to take the test since, theoretically, they had nothing to fear if he wasn’t guilty. She also clarified that Coley McCraney was compliant throughout the process, asking whoever said he ran away to check their facts.
Coley and Jeannette McCraney have been together since 1998 — before the two girls were found shot in the trunk of their car. While she and the attorneys present did not comment on where he was the night of July 31, 1999, she said there’s no way he could have killed those girls — emphasizing his reputation as a faithful family man who believes in the justice system.
“I grieve for the families of the young ladies,“ she said. “However, I’m here to let you know that the man behind those bars is innocent.“
Attorney David Harrison also spoke up about the validity of the DNA evidence, saying his client was innocent until proven guilty.
“I think probably 100 people have been released from death row because of faulty tests,“ he said.
Harrison also asked people to wait until a verdict is released before passing judgment.
“Are we not going to have a trial?“ he said. “Are we not going to uphold the Constitution?“
Both Harrison and Jeannette McCraney expressed their doubts that Coley McCraney will ever get a fair trial in Dale County. Around 30 days after McCraney is arraigned, Harrison plans to request a change of venue.
“I truly believe in the people of Dale County, Alabama,“ Harrison said. “I think they’re fair, and I think they’re forthright. However, we have a man’s life at stake here.“
A preliminary hearing will be set for April 3rd at 2 pm.