James Barnes, 46, admitted March 28 to felony injury to a child, one of three charges he faced after the crash north of Kuna that killed his daughter one year before.
Barnes wasn’t the driver of the Ford Explorer that rolled March 31, 2016, killing 14-year-old Autumn Barnes. But investigators allege he and Autumn’s then-stepmother, Jordan E. Jamison, 25, were fighting in the moments leading up to the crash.
He was also charged with possession of marijuana, a misdemeanor, and a sentencing enhancement for inflicting great bodily injury in the commission of a felony. He did not plead guilty to those charges, court records show.
Jamison, the driver, received similar charges, plus a misdemeanor for driving without privileges. The couple was each previously charged with domestic assault or battery but it appears their charges were amended in January.
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The couple divorced after the crash.
James Barnes, previously scheduled for a jury trial in July, will now be sentenced May 30.
Jamison has pleaded not guilty to all of her charges. Her trial remains scheduled for the same July date.
At the felony level, injury to a child carries a sentence of up to 10 years in prison.
The sheriff’s office says it has evidence that methamphetamine was in Jamison’s system at the time of the crash, and a report filed with the Idaho Transportation Department lists “drug impaired” as among the contributing circumstances. A subsection of state code specifically calls for a felony charge of injury to a child when someone under the influence of a controlled substance causes the death of a minor in their vehicle.
The Ford Explorer was northbound on Black Cat Road at about 6:30 a.m. that March day when the couple began arguing and hitting each other, according to prosecutors and the Ada County Sheriff’s Office. The SUV veered off the right side of the road into mailboxes and Jamison overcorrected, sending it into the southbound lane and rolling it near Ridgeback Lane, just south of Black Cat’s intersection with Amity Road.
Autumn Barnes apparently wasn’t wearing a seatbelt and was thrown from the back of the Explorer when it rolled, causing her death. Investigators spent several months reviewing the incident before filing charges.
Jamison, the driver, was convicted of negligent driving in 2014. Online court records also show three citations since 2009 for following other vehicles too closely, among several other driving infractions.