Attorneys silenced following gag order ruling

Coley McCraney

Prosecutors and attorneys involved in a double-murder case in Ozark have agreed to not publicly comment on the case following a judge’s ruling on Friday, July 26.

On June 17, Assistant Dale County District Attorney David Emery filed a motion in the case of Coley McCraney, arrested for the 1999 deaths of J.B. Beasley and Tracie Hawlett, that would prohibit media coverage of pretrial hearings and prevent attorneys from speaking to any media organization.

According to WTVY, the news station, along with WSFA and the Dothan Eagle, filed an additional motion to object the state’s request to prevent media coverage of pretrial hearings in the McCraney case.

A hearing for the gag order was initially set for July 12 before Circuit Judge William Filmore, but it was moved to Aug. 8. The judge’s ruling and pretrial publicity agreement came on July 26.

The pretrial agreement, signed by McCraney and his defense attorneys Harrison and Andrew Scarborough as well as Thirty-third Judicial Circuit District Attorney Kirke Adams and Assistant DA Emery, states that “media may attend any court proceeding open to the public for the purpose of observing and reporting on the proceeding from either memory or notes taken. The independent recording of a court proceeding is not allowed.”

The agreement also states that both the defense and state “are to refrain from making public statements… when such comments are made in such a manner that a reasonable person would expect publication either by mass media or social media.”

McCraney was arrested on March 16 and is charged with five counts of capital murder and rape. He is being held at the Dale County Jail on no bond.

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