Judge OKs evidence in deadly crash involving ex-astronaut - InfoNews

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Judge OKs evidence in deadly crash involving ex-astronaut

FILE - In this April 6, 2000 file photo, space shuttle Atlantis mission commander James Halsell Jr. speaks to reporters at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla. A Tuscaloosa County judge ruled Alabama prosecutors can use evidence collected by police after the former NASA astronaut crashed into another car while driving on a rural road more than four years ago, killing two girls. (AP Photo/Peter Cosgrove, File)
September 09, 2020 - 11:59 AM

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - Alabama prosecutors can use evidence collected by police after a former NASA astronaut crashed into another car while driving on a rural road more than four years ago, killing two girls, a judge ruled.

Jurors can hear that one-time space shuttle pilot James Halsell told police about drinking wine at a motel hours before the crash in June 2016, and prosecutors can use evidence found in the room during a search, Tuscaloosa County Circuit Judge Allen W. May Jr. wrote in an order.

Prosecutors can't use anything from an earlier glimpse of the motel room by state trooper who briefly opened the door and looked inside, the judge said.

Charged with reckless murder, Halsell was set to go on trial this year before the coronavirus pandemic erupted. No trial date is currently set, but Judge May ruled Aug. 31 on an attempt by the defence to exclude some evidence against Halsell, 63.

Halsell, of Huntsville, was arrested after a car crash killed two sisters, 11-year-old Niomi Deona James and 13-year-old Jayla Latrick Parler, near Tuscaloosa. The girls’ father, who was driving a car that was rear-ended by one driven by Halsell, and a female passenger were injured.

Authorities contend Halsell was under the influence of alcohol, but the defence has blamed the wreck on sleeping medication.

Halsell, who is free on bond, flew five shuttle missions before retiring from NASA in 2006. He went to work in the aerospace industry after leaving the agency.

News from © The Associated Press, 2020
The Associated Press

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