Ex-Astronaut Pleads Guilty In Fatal Car Crash That Killed Two Black Girls

Former NASA astronaut James Halsell pleaded guilty on Thursday (May 27) to charges in connection with a fatal car crash that left sisters Niomi James, 11, and Jayla Parler, 13, dead. The crash took place on June 6, 2016 along a highway in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. According to Tuscaloosa County District Attorney Hays Webb, Halsell got behind the wheel going 100mph after drinking a bottle of wine and taking sleeping pills.

The New York Times reported that Halsell refused to allow law enforcement officers to test his blood alcohol levels at the scene of the crash, and hours later no alcohol was found in his system. Attorneys for Halsell blame the crash on sleeping pills. The former NASA space shuttle commander was on probation at the time of the crash for a previous arrest for driving under the influence. 

Halsell was given four years behind bars, followed by 10 years probation, though the charges he faced allowed a maximum of 60 years. 

“I’m going to keep the girls’ names alive and I’m going to make sure the world knows exactly who James Halsell is and what he’s done,” the sisters’ mother, Letrice Parler, told CBS 42. “I’ve listened to a lot of credentials he’s had in there, but the main one was for me: murdered my daughters. Took away lives. We really wanted justice for this. It might have been lawful, but it wasn’t justice.”

The family was only minutes from their home after driving all day when Halsell collided with them. The girls’ father, Pernell James, told the outlet he remembers Niomi and Jayla asking him to play Taylor Swift songs.

“The one thing I do remember the most is them telling me they love me before they went to sleep,” James said. “They said, ‘Dad, we’re tired’ and they laid down. That’s the last thing they said to me.” 

Photo: Getty Images

Sponsored Content

Sponsored Content