A former Daleville man charged with murder in connection with the 1990 death of his former wife will not stand trial on that charge
On the day that the murder trial of Carl Harris was due to start in Dale County, Thirty-third Judicial Circuit District Attorney Kirke Adams announced during a press conference held at the Ozark City Hall that the charges against Harris have been dropped.
“My oath is unique in the criminal justice system,” said Adams. “My oath is to seek justice and not merely convictions. Nobody else in our justice system has this burden, which is to seek justice for every citizen, defendants and victims.”
Adams, Thirty-third Judicial Circuit Assistant District Attorney Jordan Davis and Ozark Police Chief Marlos Walker called the press conference to outline events leading up to charges against Harris being dropped and to announce the Jan. 10 arrest of Jeffery Beasley for Tracy Harris’s murder.
Beasley, 54, of Ozark, has been in Ozark since the 1990 death of Tracy Harris. Walker said that Beasley confessed to the murder.
“This was a strong circumstantial case. However, as a result of our continuing bidding to seek truth and justice, today I have dismissed the murder case against Carl Harris,” Adams said. “But that’s only the beginning of this story.”
Tracy Harris’s body was discovered on March 14, 1990 near Woodham's Bridge in the Choctawhatchee River just off County Road 20 in Dale County. The case eventually turned cold and went unsolved, Walker said, until January 2015 when Ozark police investigators reopened the cold case.
On Sept. 13, 2016 Ozark Police Investigators arrested Carl Harris in South Carolina and returned him to Ozark. He has been free on $75,000 bond.
“During the lengthy preparation for the trial of Carl Harris which was scheduled for today, my assistant Jordan Davis and myself reviewed a witness statement from March 1990,” Adams said. “We believed that witness to be important to the case.
“That witness had not been contacted since 1990 but the Ozark Police Department assisted us in finding some phone numbers for this witness. After almost giving up looking, the fifth phone number worked and a message was left for the witness.
“Jordan (Davis) was able to make contact with this witness Tuesday of last week and based on that conversation and the relentless determination of Ms. Davis, new evidence was discovered,” Adams said. “That information was immediately passed on to the Ozark Police Department which sprang into action. “Based on the new evidence and the tireless around-the-clock work of the Ozark Police Department, which was assisted by the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency, an arrest has been made of Jeff Beasley, 54, of Ozark for the murder of Tracy Harris.”
Noting that Beasley had been friends with both Carl and Tracy Harris, Adams said, “This has been an amazing series of events and, no doubt in my mind, led from above.
“It is our job and ethical obligation to seek truth and not convictions,” Adams said, thanking the law officers involved in the case. “But especially I want to thank Jordan Davis, in her role as prosecutor and truth finder. Without her relentless pursuit of truth, we would not be standing here today.
“I applaud Ozark (Police) for taking this cold case and opening it back up in 2015 to begin to find the truth,” Adams said. “Even though Carl Harris was arrested and indicted, it led us on the path where we are today.”
“In 2016, Carl Harris was arrested for the crime based on circumstantial evidence and witness testimony,” Walker said. “In preparation for the upcoming trial, Assistant District Attorney Jordan Davis and District Attorney Kirke Adams uncovered new evidence which was forwarded to the Ozark Police Department.
“Police investigators traveled more than 180 miles to interview this new witness who gave the investigators reason to conduct an interview with a person of interest,” Walker explained, adding that “the person of interest” gave details about the crime that only a person involved would know.
Harris’ trial had been scheduled for trial Jan. 13. “There were so many witnesses in this case and we had gone through relentlessly and interviewed each one,” Davis said about the female witness whose statement ultimately led to Beasley’s arrest.
At the news conference Jan. 13, Adams introduced the Harris’ daughter Carolyn Azmavour, who now lives in Texas. “It was an honor to meet with her yesterday to give her this news,” he said.
“This was all in God’s perfect timing,” Azmavour told those attending the news conference. “Because of all the postponements we are here today.”
A visibly emotional Azmavour thanked those involved in getting some closure for her mother. A young child at the time of her mother’s death she only remembers her mother through pictures, she said.
Knowing that her father is not the killer is a relief, Azmavour said. “I don’t know if I will ever have a relationship with him after this but it is a relief to know that he didn’t do this.
“I’ve had a lot of doubts my whole life actually,” Azmavour said when asked if she had doubts about her father’s involvement in the death of her mother.
“It is my oath to continually seek justice and do what’s right and not what is expedient or popular,” Adams said. “And that burden never rests.”