OZARK, Ala. (WDHN) — David Harrison along with Andrew Scarborough who defended Coley McCraney in a two-week murder trial wants a retrial after they believe some jurors were active on social media during the case.
“Social media has gotten really popular in the last five years or so and I have been doing this since 1991 and I have never seen some issues to arise like the ones in this case,” He said.
McCraney was found guilty on four counts of capital murder in the 1999 deaths of J.B. Beasley and Tracie Hawlett. The jury also sentenced him to life in prison without parole the next day.
That’s when Harrison said they were made aware by a paralegal of at least one juror possibly more making comments related to the case on social media during deliberation.
“At this point, I’m not going to comment about it, but we do know some of the comments,” He said. “I want to say this, social media and jury trials are so new.”
Harrison said the judge gave specific instructions to jurors about staying off social media while the trial is taking place.
He said the credibility of the trial is based on jurors following court instructions.
“We just want a fair trial for both sides and when they are not we don’t get that fair trial,” He said. “We don’t know the answer to that yet it’s still being investigated and we want to get to the bottom of it.”
Harrison also believes the rule of staying off social media is vague — it’s unclear if it means completely or if you can participate but don’t look at anything about the case.
“The rule needs to be defined by the legislature and I expect it to be real soon because jurors are deliberating about a man’s life yet they are commenting on Facebook,” He said.
Harrison is working with other attorneys on seeking a new trial as they have 30 days to put their issues in motion for a new trial. The judge will decide to have a hearing and 42 days from that date, they will appeal to the Court of Criminal Appeals.