OZARK, Ala (WDHN)— Monday we learn more about why the state’s most powerful law officer has taken on one of the most high-profile murder cases in the Wiregrass.

Attorney General Steve Marshall and Assistant Attorney General Jimmy L. Thomas has joined the prosecution of Coley Lewis McCraney, who is accused of killing teenagers Tracie Hawlett and J.B Beasley in the summer of 1999

The Dale County District Attorney’s Office reached out to Attorney General Marshall requesting his help in the case following a devastating bicycle accident involving David Emry, which left him with critical injuries.

Emery, the Dale County Assistant District Attorney, was the lead prosecutor on the McCraney case.

Emry will continue to consult on the case, says Dale County District Attorney Kirk Adams.

This is not the first time the Attorney General’s Office has been a part of this particular case.

The Attorney General’s office assisted in the investigation that led to the initial discovery of DNA evidence on the body of Beasley, stated in a 2019 release from the Attorney General’s Office.

Following the discovery of DNA and McCraney’s arrest in March 2019, the Attorney General’s office released a statement saying:

DNA evidence recovered from Beasley’s body and clothing helped to create a profile of the suspect, but despite our best-combined efforts law enforcement were never able to find a genetic match—until now.

On Friday, March 15, 2019, members of the Ozark Police Department’s Investigations Division, as well as Agents with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Alabama Attorney General’s Office arrested* Coley Lewis McCraney in Dale County, Alabama, on charges of capital murder and rape.

Alabama Attorney General’s Office Press Release (2019)

Per Alabama Code 36-15-14, the Alabama Attorney General has the right to direct the prosecution of any criminal case in the state.

According to the 2019 release, on July 31, 1999, Beasley and Hawlett, both 17, went to a party in Headland. The next day, the teens were found dead in the trunk of Beasley’s car, both suffering gunshot wounds to the head.

Last week on November 16, McCraney was denied bond after being behind bars for nearly four years.

McCraney’s trial had been pushed back several times due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In August 2022, a trial came close but since a jury could not be seated, it was once again pushed back to April 2023.

Stay with WDHN for updates on the case.

  • Coley McCraney enters Dale Co. Courthouse