On June 6, 2016, Latrice Parler learned of the tragic passing of her two daughters, Jayla Parler and Niomi James.

They both were in the car with their father on a trip from Texas when the vehicle was struck by then-59-year-old James Halsell Jr. Almost five years later, Parler and her family are still fighting for justice for Jayla and Niomi.

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According to Parler, the girls were traveling in the car with their father from Texas. They had made it back to Tuscaloosa and just before 3 a.m., Halsell, a former NASA astronaut, crashed into their Ford Fiesta with his rented Chrysler 200.

“James Halsell hit them from the back and my youngest daughter died on the scene,” Parler said. “My oldest daughter, the helicopter took her all the way to DCH before they pronounced her dead.“

Halsell was found to be very drunk on the scene; he was so intoxicated that he tried to steal the truck of a passerby who tried to stop and help the victims, according to a deposition filed shortly after the crash. After authorities conducted a search of the motel Halsell was staying in before he got on the road, they found a wine bottle and a 10-pack of sleeping pills – all empty.

This case has yet to be taken to trial and Parler and her family are not letting up on the fight for justice. On Thursday, May 27, 2021, Halsell will have his day in court and Parler will finally learn the fate of the man responsible for the death of her two daughters.

“I have a lot of mixed feelings,” she said. “Mostly, it’s very anxious to hear what the judge is going to say and how everything is going to turn out.”

Parler also revealed that Halsell was detained for seven hours before being officially arrested after the crash, thus skewing any alcohol limit tests he might have taken at his time of arrest.

As Halsell’s plea deal hearing approaches on May 27, Parler is making a plea of her own: she’s urging the community to come out to the Tuscaloosa County Courthouse at 10:30 a.m. to support the family and show that “these girls meant something.”


The Tuscaloosa Thread will publish the results of the hearing as soon as the information is made available. Visit tuscaloosathread.com to stay connected to the case as it develops.

To hear the entire interview with Latrice Parler, click “play” on the audio clip below:


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