Couple’s fighting led to crash that killed Kuna teen, prosecutors charge

The family’s Ford Explorer, following the crash.
The family’s Ford Explorer, following the crash.

The woman behind the wheel of a Ford Explorer that rolled March 31 was trading blows with her then-husband, had recently taken drugs and was driving without a license, investigators allege.

Autumn Barnes, 14, apparently wasn’t wearing a seatbelt and was thrown from the back of the Explorer when it rolled, causing her death. After several months of investigation, her father, James D. Barnes, and then-stepmother, Jordan E. Jamison, were charged in the matter just this week.

Jamison, 25, and James Barnes, 46, each face a felony count of injury to a child and a misdemeanor count of domestic assault or battery related to the 6:30 a.m. crash along Black Cat Road.

Both are free pending their next court hearings.

The Ford Explorer was northbound on Black Cat Road at about 6:30 a.m. when Jamison, the driver, and James Barnes, a passenger in the front seat, 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 died at the scene.

Jamison had to be cut from the wreckage. Paramedics took her and James Barnes to Saint Alphonsus Regional Medical Center in Boise. Jamison remained hospitalized for a month and has since been living with her mother, according to court testimony Wednesday.

Court records show James Barnes filed for divorce in April, just two weeks after the wreck. The divorce was finalized in August.

The sheriff’s office says it has evidence that methamphetamine was in Jamison’s system at the time, and a crash report filed with the Idaho Transportation Department lists “drug impaired” as among the contributing circumstances. Asked about the alleged drug use, prosecutors referred to a subsection of state code that 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 sheriff’s office turned the case over to prosecutors in October. They issued warrants for James Barnes and Jamison Monday and both were arrested Tuesday without incident.

Barnes posted $75,000 bond Tuesday afternoon and has been given a Dec. 6 arraignment date, according to court records.

Jamison remained in jail on $75,000 bond, but Ada County Judge Michael Oths released her Wednesday afternoon on her own recognizance, saying he does not believe she’s a flight risk due to her injuries and living situation. Her next scheduled court date is a preliminary hearing Dec. 21. At such a hearing, a judge decides if a case merits advancing to district court and a full trial.

The former couple’s cases will be consolidated, Oths said.

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. She was not carrying auto insurance at the time of the crash, according to the ITD report. She does not appear to have any past convictions for drug use.

Neither Jamison nor James Barnes appear to have any previous domestic violence convictions.

At the felony level, injury to a child carries a sentence of up to 10 years in prison. For a first offense, misdemeanor domestic assault or battery is punishable by up to 6 months in jail and a $1,000 fine.

The Statesman’s Erin Fenner, John Sowell and Nicole Blanchard contributed.