Disturbing details of deadly wreck revealed in court documents, former astronaut charged


James Halsell, Jr.

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TUSCALOOSA COUNTY, Ala. - Court and arrest documents are giving WHNT News 19 a deeper look into the arrest of James Halsell, Jr. He's charged with reckless murder after being involved in a wreck that killed two children.

The wreck happened Monday, June 6, around 3:00 a.m. on U.S. 82 in Tuscaloosa County. Jayla Latrice Parler, 12, and Niomi Deona James, 11, died in the wreck. Parnell Deon James and Shontel Latrivia Cutts were sent to the hospital.

Investigators: Halsell was so intoxicated he asked to see the victims' bodies.

The documents say the State Trooper who spoke with Halsell concerning the crash said he, Halsell, didn't remember the crash happening.

Halsell was driving a rented Chrysler 200 at the time of the wreck. The other vehicle involved was a Ford Fiesta.

James, the driver of the Fiesta, told investigators he was traveling eastbound in the right hand lane of Highway 82 at or about the speed limit of 65 mph. He says the vehicle was hit from behind by Halsell's vehicle with such force that the Fiesta was crushed and pushed sideways. The Fiesta went through the left eastbound lane and into the median where it flipped at least twice before landing in the left westbound lane.

State troopers say the evidence at the scene supports that account of the wreck.

Halsell, whose address is listed in Huntsville, told investigators he was on his way to West Monroe, Louisiana to get his son. He told troopers he had gotten a room at the Motel 6 in Tuscaloosa around midnight, and that he usually takes the Interstate to Louisiana. However, he was traveling eastbound on U.S. 82 at the time of the wreck.

The State Trooper noticed Halsell's speech would slur at times and his "voice would get low while talking." He also noticed Halsell's eyes were dilated and he appeared to be confused on where he was, where he was going, and what time it was.

According to the report, Halsell admitted to having three glasses of wine at the Motel 6, and said he didn't remember leaving the hotel. Investigators say they didn't find any evidence of drugs or alcohol in or around Halsell's vehicle, but they say they did find an empty bottle of wine and a 10-pack of sleeping pills that was empty inside his room at Motel 6.

Part of the report reads as follows:

Halsell was under the influence of alcohol and said he didn't remember leaving the hotel. Halsell said he will have to figure out what happened in the crash because he didn't know. Halsell thought he was traveling on Interstate 20. Halsell had the odor of alcohol coming from him. Halsell said it gets uncertain about what happened from the Hotel on. Halsell said there is a lot he does not know right now. Halsell said whatever he would say would be fraught with error it wouldn't make sense anyway. Halsell was so intoxicated he asked to see the victims' bodies.

A witness who stopped to help the victims tells investigators Halsell tried to leave the scene by stealing his truck.

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