Virus causes trial delay in 1999 slaying of Alabama teens

DOTHAN, Ala. (AP) — The capital murder trial of a trucker charged with killing two Alabama teens in 1999 has been delayed until next year because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Dothan Eagle reported that a court had pushed back the trial of Coley McCraney, but Dale County Circuit Judge William Filmore did not immediately schedule a new date.

McCraney was set to go on trial Nov. 16 in the slayings of Dothan residents J.B. Beasley and Tracie Hawlett, who were both 17 when they disappeared, but the defense requested a postponement citing the pandemic.

Arrested last year, McCraney has pleaded not guilty in the killings. He was originally scheduled to go on trial earlier this year but the case was delayed.

Investigators identified McCraney as a suspect after using genetic genealogy techniques on crime scene DNA, police said. Authorities said subsequent testing indicated McCraney’s DNA was a match.

The girls' bodies were found in the trunk of Beasley’s car on a street in Ozark on Aug. 1, 1999. Evidence showed each had been shot in the head.

McCraney is jailed without bond.