Is DNA enough to convict suspected killer Coley McCraney?
The most significant evidence that implicates Coley McCraney in the murder of two Dothan teens is DNA, according to police and court testimony.
DOTHAN, Ala. (WTVY) -The most significant evidence that implicates Coley McCraney in the murders of two Dothan teens is DNA, according to police and court testimony.
But that evidence alone is not enough to convict—or even arrest---a suspect, according to an expert whose company identified McCraney to police.
After receiving those DNA results in 2019, Ozark officers charged McCaney with shooting J.B. Beasley and Tracie Hawlett, whose bodies were found in Ozark 20 years earlier.
“We’re providing a highly scientific tip, but nobody is going to be arrested based on what we say alone,” Parabon NanoLabs Chief Genealogist CeCe Moore told CBS following McCraney’s arrest. “Law enforcement has to take that tip and then go and build their traditional forensic case against this person.”
She spoke generally and not specifically to McCraney’s case.
The April 2018 arrest of Joseph DeAngelo, the Golden State Killer, put forensic genealogy in the mainstream of crime investigations.
That technology also implicated McCraney, a truck driver and pastor.
A report from the Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences claims chances of the DNA on Ms. Beasley belonging to someone other than McCraney are a minimum of one in 14 million.
Past DNA prosecutors have tipped little of their plans for McCraney’s trial that begins Monday, though they have provided a few glimpses.
During a hearing on April 3, 2019, a police investigator indicated he believed McCraney had a 9mm Glock---the type of pistol that killed the 17-year-old Dothan girls but has not been located---when military police detained McCraney in Mississippi before the Alabama murders occurred.
Ozark Police Lt. Michael Bryan also testified that McCraney, who lived near where police found the bodies, moved away soon after the shootings, though under cross-examination, he admitted the his new address was only a few miles away.
Genealogy DNA has been used to identify suspected killers in hundreds of cold cases and has proven reliable.
McCraney’s attorneys, based upon their statements, will not contest the DNA results but attempt to explain that evidence with suggestions that McCraney and Beasley had a sexual relationship.
They will attempt to persuade jurors that someone other than McCraney is the killer.
Subscribe to our News 4 newsletter and receive the latest local news and weather straight to your email every morning. Get instant notifications on top stories from News 4 by downloading our mobile apps.
Copyright 2023 WTVY. All rights reserved.