Retired Air Force Colonel, NASA Astronaut Charged with Murder

James Halsell, JrJames Halsell, Jr

By Associated Press

TUSCALOOSA, AL — A former astronaut who flew five missions and helped lead NASA back into space after the space shuttle Columbia disaster is charged with murder after a wreck early Monday morning that killed two girls in Alabama, state troopers said.

Col James Halsell Jr, 59, of Huntsville was arrested after a crash killed 11-year-old Niomi Deona James and 13-year-old Jayla Latrick Parler of Brent on Monday , said a statement from Reginal King, a spokesman for Alabama state troopers.

Troopers said a Chrysler 300 driven by Col Halsell collided with a Ford Fiesta in which the girls were passengers. Both victims were ejected from the vehicle and died.

Two adults who were in the car suffered injuries and were hospitalized.

A preliminary investigation indicated alcohol and speed may have been factors in the crash, said the statement by King. The wreck happened at 2:50 a.m. on U.S. 82, a rural highway east of Tuscaloosa.

Court records weren’t available Tuesday to show whether Col Halsell, a retired Air Force colonel, has a lawyer. A message left at a home telephone number wasn’t immediately returned.

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1 Comment on "Retired Air Force Colonel, NASA Astronaut Charged with Murder"

  1. Halsell has bonded out of jail, no court date set.

    Court documents say Halsell told state troopers that he drank three glasses of wine. When authorities searched his room at the Motel 6 in Tuscaloosa, they found an empty wine bottle and an empty package of sleeping pills.

    According to court documents, Halsell did not remember the crash and asked the troopers to see the bodies of the victims. A witness who stopped to help at the crash site told investigators that Halsell tried to take his car and leave the scene.

    The District Attorney’s office revealed that Halsell could face more charges, including assault, but the Grand Jury will make the decision.

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