Witnesses: Retired astronaut asked to see bodies after fatal cra - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

Witnesses: Retired astronaut asked to see bodies after fatal crash

James Halsell Jr. (Source: Tuscaloosa County Sheriff's Dept.) James Halsell Jr. (Source: Tuscaloosa County Sheriff's Dept.)
TUSCALOOSA COUNTY, AL (WAFF) -

A former astronaut from Huntsville charged with murder for the deaths of two young girls in a car crash admitted to drinking wine according to newly filed court documents in Tuscaloosa County.

James Donald Halsell Jr. was driving a rented Chrysler 200 when state troopers say he rear-ended a Ford Fiesta on Highway 82 during Monday’s crash.

According to Wednesday’s court filing, Halsell told one of the first troopers on the scene that he didn’t remember the crash.

But witnesses told troopers filing the report a different story.

READ MORE: Former astronaut charged with murder after sisters die in wreck

One person who stopped to help the family of four in the damaged Fiesta said Halsell tried to take off in his car.

Troopers got on the scene and detained Halsell, who told them he drank three glasses of wine at a Tuscaloosa hotel when asked if he’d been drinking.

But troopers say he appeared very intoxicated and when told about the fatalities asked to see the bodies.

Jayla Latrice Price and Niomi Deona James were killed in the crash when Halsell’s car hit them from behind at a high rate of speed that it pushed the victim’s car into the median before it overturned.

Troopers later checked Halsell’s hotel room and found an empty bottle of wine along with a 10 pill package of sleeping pills that was empty.

Halsell was on his way to pick up his son in Louisiana, a route he usually traveled by interstate.  Troopers said Halsell couldn’t explain why he ended up on Highway 82.

Halsell is currently free on bond. No court date has been set. Court documents do not reveal if he has an attorney yet. 

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