By Clair McFarland, General Assignment Reporter
The Rock Springs man accused of involuntary manslaughter for bringing illegal drugs into the house where his toddler overdosed has numerous prior convictions, according to Tuesday court testimony.
Daniel James, 27, appeared in Rock Springs Circuit Court for an initial appearance, where Judge Craig Jones established a $100,000 cash-only bond.
In 2017, James was charged with two counts of strangulation of a household member – a felony chargeable when a suspect is believed to have choked an intimate partner in an act of violence – and with one count of domestic battery, John Olson, deputy prosecuting attorney for the Sweetwater County Attorney’s Office, told the court.
Olson said James pleaded guilty to just one of the two counts of strangulation, and to the domestic battery charge.
“He drank half a bottle of Jägermeister,” Olson said, adding that James then pushed his girlfriend, choked her, released her, choked her again, threatened to kill her, punched her in the face several times, kneed her in the back and headbutted her, giving her a head concussion.
James shook his head and shut his eyes intermittently while Olson recounted the circumstances of James’ 2017 charges.
For those convictions, James was sentenced to between two and four years in prison suspended over a term of probation. But he served his prison term after violating probation, Olson said.
‘Mom Then Rocked The Child’
Olson gave a blunt account of James’ son’s death on Oct. 21, for which he is now being prosecuted.
Olson said the 2-year-old boy ingested some of James’ drugs, “for which he did not have a valid prescription.”
James appeared surprised or frustrated at that statement.
“The mother noticed the defendant’s relapses,” said Olson, saying the child’s mom found some of James’ Xanax and threw it away around the time the child got sick.
The night before he died, the child walked into his mother’s room and said, “Ma, I don’t feel good,” Olson related, then the boy threw up on the floor twice.
“Mom then rocked the child to sleep,” Olson added.
“When she found him in the morning, the child was on the floor, cold and stiff next to the defendant, sleeping on a recliner,” said Olson. “But for the defendant bringing drugs into the home, the child would still be alive.”
Meth, Marijuana, DUIs
James is charged with involuntary manslaughter, which is punishable by up to 20 years in prison and $10,000 in fines. He also is charged with felony marijuana possession and felony Xanax possession, each punishable by up to five years in prison.
Olson told the court that James’ prior charges and convictions include possession of marijuana in 2004 and again in 2005; a DUI (driving while under the influence of alcohol) in 2008 and another seven months later in 2009.
Olson said James in 2015 was charged with methamphetamine possession and later violated his probation by leaving the state without permission and not adhering to his meth use counseling.