DALE COUNTY, Ala (WDHN) — A former death row inmate has been called as a witness in one of the biggest murder trials in Wiregrass history.
According to court documents, Emanuel Gissendanner, Jr. will be a witness in the trial of Coley McCraney, who is is accused of killing teenagers Tracie Hawlett and J.B Beasley in the summer of 1999.
Gissendanner was charged with the 2001 murder of 77-year-old Margaret Snellgrove. He was convicted of capital murder and had been on death row since 2004, but in 2010, Judge Kenneth Quattlebaum, who presided over Gissendanner’s first trial, ordered a new one after his attorneys allegedly made unprofessional errors while defending him.
In 2019, after 18 years on death row and wanting to avoid another trial, Gissendanner entered a guilty plea and was released from prison. Before he entered the plea, Gissendanner was placed in a cell with McCraney in the Dale County Jail.
Attorney David Harrison claimed Gissendanner was placed in the same cell as McCraney because authorities wanted to obtain knowledge or get a confession from his client.
The long-awaited trial for McCraney, who was arrested in 2019, is expected to start April 17.