Brooklyn James was a member of the team when The Purple Unicorns were the 2013-14 Madison Parks Department Youth League Basketball Girls Division tournament runner-up. This photo with her father, Brian James, appeared in The Madison Courier sports section in 2014.
Brooklyn James was a member of the team when The Purple Unicorns were the 2013-14 Madison Parks Department Youth League Basketball Girls Division tournament runner-up. This photo with her father, Brian James, appeared in The Madison Courier sports section in 2014.
Moments after reading a list of felonies against Brian Ulysses James — including the alleged criminal confinement and intimidation of his wife and 19-year-old daughter last October — Jefferson Circuit Judge D.J. Mote gave James probably all a father could hope for under the circumstances.

James’ daughter, Brooklyn, was one of the two teens killed in a car crash at the intersection of S.R. 256 and Thompson Road last Thursday. Brooklyn James, a passenger in the rear seat, and Tyler Cooley, 18, of Hanover, who was the front seat passenger, both died at the accident scene while driver Blake Coombs, 18, of Madison, was critically injured while attempting to flee police.

“I’m going to be in jail for my daughters’ funeral,” James sobbed several times during the hearing.

“Mr. James, no matter what happens today, you will be at that funeral ... you will be there in some way,” Mote told James.

Brian James, 45, of Madison, was arraigned in Circuit Court Monday on charges related to the October incident involving his daughter and wife as well as new charges in the aftermath of his daughter’s death after he had posted a picture of a handgun and messages on Facebook indicating that he might harm himself and/or seek vengeance for his daughter’s death.

“Over the weekend, the father of one of the victims of the crash, Brian James, encountered law enforcement and gave a verbal indication to officers that he was a danger to himself or others,” Sutter had said in a statement released Monday morning. “Mr. James was detained on the outstanding warrant on January 11, 2020, for his personal safety, the safety of others, and to begin the process of resolving (the earlier) case.”

“Further information from law enforcement indicates that following the crash, Mr. James made several posts on social media, including a photograph of a gun and others in which references were made to potentially killing Blake Coombs and harming himself and law enforcement. Due to his criminal history, Mr. James is prohibited from possessing firearms.”

Facing a March 10 trial date and the possibility that he could still be in jail during his daughter’s funeral — the prosecution had recommended a $100,000 cash bond in the case with Mote saying he would ponder his decision until later in the day — James, wife Jackie, and other family broke out sobbing several times during Monday’s hearing with Mote cautioning them at least three times to refrain from their outbursts or he would halt the hearing.

Mote had called prosecutors and Jefferson County Chief Deputy Sheriff Joshua Taylor for a sidebar before informing James he would be allowed to attend the funeral. Later Mote said the details must still be worked out and at the discretion of the sheriff’s office but that James would be allowed to attend the funeral even if he cannot post bond once it is set.

“How long you will be there is not up to me. It’s up to the sheriff, and it has to be done in a safe way,” Mote told James.

While talking to reporters after the hearing, family members noted that just about any amount of bond would be too much for a man who is out of work and has no savings and a family already struggling to pay for unexpected funeral costs.

Mote told James that his social media posts and remarks to authorities left them concerned for his safety and the safety of others and were factors in both his decision on bond and even on the actual charges being brought at this particular time.

Mote said everybody involved — from the court to the police agencies involved in the pursuit that ended with Thursday’s fatal crash — are sympathetic to the tragedy James and the other families are going through.

“The Indiana State Police actually asked the court to recall the warrant after the death of your daughter,” Mote said. “These police officers spent quite a lot of time on the phone with me asking me to recall the warrant for 30 days to give you time to grieve.”

However, he said, James’ history of violence and domestic assaults combined with the new information that he apparently had access to a handgun as a convicted felony offender and had made threatening statements to police and on social media, outweighed delaying the arrest.

James, who was accused of threatening both Jackie and Brooklyn James in October, 2019, faces up to six years in prison on the criminal confinement and intimidation charges, three years on the domestic battery charge and up to 365 days in jail on the interference with the reporting of an incident charge. He also faces up to three years in prison on the handgun without a license charge and up to 365 days in jail on the firearm possession charge.

Brian James has previously pleaded guilty to charges of criminal confinement, intimidation and domestic battery in other cases involving his wife.