James D. Barnes will spend 90 days in jail for his role in the March 31, 2016, crash that caused the death of his daughter, Autumn Marie Barnes, 14.
Fourth District Judge Jonathan Medema told James Barnes during a sentencing hearing Tuesday that he would order a withheld judgment, giving Barnes the chance to have the conviction wiped from his record if he completes five years of probation. The judge also said he would allow Barnes to serve the jail time over a two-year period so he can continue to work.
Medema told Barnes it was a tough case, and that he recognized the father had suffered greatly.
“I don’t know that I can punish you more than you’ve punished yourself over the loss of your daughter,” Medema said.
In brief remarks to the judge, James Barnes said the memory of Autumn remains with him.
“I want an opportunity to honor my daughter every day,” he said.
James and Autumn Barnes were passengers in a Ford Explorer that struck several mailboxes and then rolled when the driver, Jordan E. Jamison, overcorrected near Ridgeback Lane, just south of the intersection of Black Cat and Amity roads southwest of Meridian.
The vehicle was headed north on Black Cat about 6:30 a.m. when Jamison and James Barnes, seated in the front passenger seat, began arguing and hitting each other, the Ada County Sheriff’s Office previously said. The SUV veered off the right side of the road into the mailboxes before it rolled.
Autumn Barnes died at the scene. She was not wearing a seat belt and was thrown from the back of the Explorer, authorities said.
Both James Barnes and Jamison, the girl’s former stepmother, were charged with felony injury to a child, infliction of great bodily harm and possession of a controlled substance. Jamison was also charged with driving without privileges.
Barnes pleaded guilty in March to injury to a child. His other two charges were dismissed in exchange for his guilty plea.
“He loved his daughter,” defense attorney Nancy Callahan said. “He will pay for this the rest of his life. That pain can be lightened but it will never go away.”
Callahan described her client as a “good man” who unfortunately “hooked up with a woman who was a (drug) user.”
The Sheriff’s Office earlier claimed Jamison, who spent a month in a hospital after the wreck, had methamphetamine in her system at the time. A crash report filed with the Idaho Transportation Department lists “drug impaired” as a contributing factor.
Jamison has pleaded not guilty to the charges against her. She is scheduled to go to trial before a jury on Oct. 25. Medema is also overseeing that case.
Jamison 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 does not appear to have any past convictions for drug use.
Jamison’s attorney, Heidi Johnson, declined to comment, noting that her client’s case is pending.
James Barnes filed for divorce two weeks after the wreck. The divorce was finalized last August.