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Judge to decide controversial testimony in McCraney trial

Circuit Judge William Filmore’s ruling comes in response to defense claims they are prepared to present evidence that others may have killed two teens.
Published: Jan. 13, 2022 at 9:40 AM CST
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OZARK, Ala. (WTVY) -A Dale County judge will consider on a situation-by-situation basis what testimony to allow during the much-anticipated trial of Coley McCraney, who is charged with murdering two Dothan teens.

Circuit Judge William Filmore’s ruling comes in response to defense attorneys’ claims they are prepared to present evidence that others may have killed 17-year-olds J.B. Beasley and Tracie Hawlett in 1999.

Among them is a witness prepared to testify that an Ozark police officer confessed to those crimes at a Christmas party, attorney David Harrison said during a court hearing last week.

He also claims another person saw an officer near the crime scene only hours before police discovered the girls’ bodies in the trunk of their car.

Harrison, during trial, will also probably attempt to drudge up the arrest of Johnny William Barrentine, the man first charged with killing Ms. Beasley and Ms. Hawlett. Those charges were dropped.

Barrentine is deceased as is at least one other man some consider a suspect.

Dale County Assistant District Attorney David Emery hopes Judge Filmore will bar what Emery believes are rumors, hearsay, and testimony that fail to meet a legal threshold for trial admittance.

Emery points that DNA implicates only one person-- Coley McCraney, a 48-year-old man who lived near the Ozark crime scene. He was arrested in 2019.

When testimony becomes a legal issue during McCraney’s trial, it will be discussed outside the jury’s presence with prosecutors and defense attorneys present with Filmore.

A gag order forbids attorneys and police from commenting publicly about this case.

McCraney’s trial is set on May 2.

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