This Alabama man was supposed to go on trial this week for murdering his ex-wife, but instead, he was allowed to go free. Alabama prosecutors have cited new evidence in the slaying that happened in 1990, and another man has been arrested. What happened?
Carl Harris was arrested in 2016 for the murder of his ex-wife, Tracey Harris. He was indicted by a Dale County grand jury, and his trial was supposed to begin on Monday–but he never had to show up. His attorney, David Harrison, said, “It should appall everybody that a man can go 30 years and be accused of a crime.”
When Harris spoke to reporters on Tuesday, he said that his only wish is to be able to talk to his daughter again. “I want her to know that all of this should have been done back in 1990,” he said. “I love her and I miss her.”
At first, Dale County District Attorney Kirke Adams thought he had a “strong, circumstantial case” against Carl Harris, but after he and Assistant District Attorney Jordan Davis found a witness statement from March 1990 from someone who was considered “important to the case,” they decided to drop charges.
New evidence was discovered after the state police and the Ozark Police Department were able to help prosecutors track down the witness, and they traveled 180 miles to do so. After speaking with her, Adams said, “based on that conversation and the relentless determination of Ms. Davis, new evidence was discovered.”
This was the first time that police had spoken to the woman since 1990. The prosecutor for the case said, “My oath is to seek justice and not merely convictions. No one else in our justice system has this burden to seek justice for every citizen — every citizen, defendants and victims — and that burden never rests.”
The new evidence revealed by the witness led to the arrest of Jeff Beasley, 54, of Ozark. He is being held on $150,000 bail after being charged with the murder. Adams said that Beasley was friends with both Carl and Tracey Harris and that he’d been married to the witness, but divorced a long time ago.
During the investigation, Beasley confessed to the murder and “gave details about the crime that only the killer would know,” said Ozark Police Chief Marlos Walker.