Ex-astronaut indicted traffic deaths of 2 girls in Alabama

James Halsell, Jr.

James Halsell, Jr.

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) — A grand jury in Alabama has indicted a former space shuttle commander in the traffic deaths of two girls earlier this year.

A prosecutor said Thursday that a grand jury in Tuscaloosa indicted James Halsell of Huntsville on charges of reckless murder and assault.

Halsell was arrested in June after a wreck killed 11-year-old Niomi James and 13-year-old Jayla Parler. Police reports show investigators believe alcohol and speed could be factors.

The girls’ relatives filed lawsuits blaming the former astronaut for the deaths. Halsell’s attorneys have filed a document saying the driver of the other car failed to yield and contributed to the wreck.

Halsell flew on five space shuttle flights before going to work in the aerospace industry in 2006. He turns 60 on Friday.