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Wednesday, April 1, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Idaho

Lawmaker’s behavior has medical cause, lawyer says

Idaho senator arraigned on theft, drunken driving charges

Attorney Scott McKay, foreground, speaks as his client, Idaho state Sen. John McGee, is arraigned via video monitor Monday in Boise. (Chris Butler)
Attorney Scott McKay, foreground, speaks as his client, Idaho state Sen. John McGee, is arraigned via video monitor Monday in Boise. (Chris Butler)
By From Staff And Wire Reports

BOISE – The lawyer for an Idaho state senator accused of taking an SUV and trailer from a stranger’s home in Boise and driving the vehicle while drunk said Monday there are “medical explanations” for his client’s behavior.

Idaho Senate Republican Caucus Chairman John McGee, of Caldwell, was arraigned in Idaho’s 4th District Court on charges of misdemeanor drunken driving and taking a vehicle without the owner’s consent, causing more than $1,000 damage, a felony.

McGee, 38, was arrested early Sunday after police say he took a Ford Excursion and cargo trailer from the southwest Boise home of a “complete stranger” and got it stuck in a yard down the street. A breath test showed the four-term lawmaker’s blood-alcohol content was nearly twice the legal limit, police said.

KTVB-TV in Boise reported that police said McGee was drinking at a golf course on Saturday night, then left on foot before being found hours later in the Excursion after he was spotted by neighborhood residents.

Joe Carleton, owner of the home in whose yard McGee got the SUV stuck, told KIVI-TV, “He was in the back seat and I asked him what he was doing. He said, ‘I’m looking for the Promised Land.’ I said ‘You’re in the wrong land – this is not the Promised Land.’ Then he saw my wife in the window with a robe on and he says, ‘There’s an angel.’ I called 911 right away.”

Residents told the two TV stations that McGee was barefoot, had cuts on his legs and seemed dazed.

McGee made his first court appearance via video from jail. During the brief hearing, his attorney said “medical explanations” for McGee’s actions would negate any criminal liability in the case. He declined to elaborate.

“To say that the criminal charges are out of character for Sen. McGee, I don’t think that is an understatement,” attorney Scott McKay said in court.

McGee’s bond was set at $5,000 and he was released from the Ada County Jail shortly after his arraignment.

A preliminary hearing in the case is scheduled for July 1.

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