Wrongful death lawsuits filed against ex-astronaut in crash, Chief Justice Moore to argue his case

Jun 28, 2016

The families of two girls who were killed in a DUI crash involving a former NASA astronaut in rural west Alabama have filed wrongful-death lawsuits in state and federal courts.

Authorities say 11-year-old Niomi James and 13-year-old Jayla Parler were killed in a crash that left two others injured on June 6 in rural west Alabama.

Former NASA astronaut 59-year-old James Halsell has been charged with reckless murder in the crash and now faces wrongful-death lawsuits in Tuscaloosa County and in federal court.

Latrice Parler identifies herself in court documents as the girls' custodial parent. Parler is suing in federal court, while injured passenger Pernell James filed a lawsuit in Tuscaloosa County.

Attorney James Sturdivant is representing Halsell in the criminal case. He has declined to comment.

Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore will have the chance to argue his case. APR student reporter Mary (Grace) Roberts has more on Moore’s effort to have his case thrown out…

The Court of the Judiciary scheduled oral arguments for August 8th on Moore’s motion to have his charges dismissed.

The Chief Justice has been accused of improperly trying to block gay couples from marrying despite the Supreme Court ruling in favor of same sex marriage. The Alabama Judicial Inquiry Commission hears misconduct accusations against state judges. Moore could be removed from office if they decide he violated judicial ethics.

Back in January, Moore told probate judges that a state order prohibiting same-sex marriage remained in effect. That took place well after the U.S. Supreme Court ruling overrode state law.

Governor Robert Bentley has announced that the city of Elba will receive money from the Federal Emergency Management Agency for damages to local properties.

The city is going to receive two million dollars of mitigation money to provide for the damages suffered by residential homes during flooding late last year.

Mayor Mickey Murdock says the money will go directly to helping residents…

“There were approximately 188 homes affected by the flooding.  The idea of the mitigation is to prevent people suffering in those areas. One of the things that these funds will be used for is to give the money to those residents to buy a new house.”

The city has a history of severe weather, as flooding has been an issue for Elba for nearly a hundred years. Elba was one of the hardest hit areas in Coffee County during the December 2015 floods.