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This Hour: Latest Idaho news, sports, business and entertainment

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House panel condemns Obama for prisoner swap

WASHINGTON (AP) - A House panel has voted to condemn President Barack Obama for the May swap of five Taliban leaders for Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who was held prisoner in Afghanistan for five years.

The Armed Services Committee voted 34-25 on Tuesday for a nonbinding, bipartisan resolution that disapproves of the exchange and faults Obama for failing to notify Congress 30 days in advance, as required by law.

The resolution also expresses national security concerns about transferring the five from the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to Qatar. They had been held there for more than a decade.

The nation's seven top military leaders have said the United States has a sacred commitment to men and women who serve that it will never leave anyone behind on the battlefield.


Judge: Peterson no longer Idaho GOP chairman

TWIN FALLS, Idaho (AP) - A District Court judge has ruled that embattled Idaho GOP Chairman Barry Peterson is no longer in control of the state's Republican Party.

Fifth District Judge Randy Stoker says Peterson's two-year term expired when the state's chaotic GOP convention adjourned earlier this year without electing a new leader. Stoker made the ruling Tuesday in Twin Falls County.

Peterson had sued two party officers to maintain control of Idaho's divided GOP after a meeting was called to elect new party officers.

The judge ruled the Aug. 2 meeting can go on as scheduled.

State party chairmen are typically appointed during the party's convention. However, political infighting between far-right conservatives and traditional Republicans resulted in a failure to vote on leaders, resolutions or party platforms at Idaho's GOP convention.


Former church deacon sentenced for lewd conduct

CALDWELL, Idaho (AP) - A former southwestern Idaho church deacon who told police Satan may have taken control of his body, causing him to molest a 12-year-old girl in a church storage room, has been sentenced to five to 15 years in prison.

However, District Judge Bradly S. Ford retained jurisdiction for a year, meaning 57-year-old Alexander Gonzalez Garcia of Middleton could get out of prison after a year if he responds well to treatment programs.

Garcia was initially charged with lewd conduct with a child, but pleaded guilty in March to sexual abuse of a minor. He must register as a sex offender and have no contact with the girl, her family or any girls under the age of 18.

Prosecutors say he molested the girl during a July 2013 potluck at the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Nampa.


Idaho suspends plan for hired wolf hunter

BOISE, Idaho (AP) - Idaho Fish and Game officials say they're suspending a plan to use a hired hunter to kill wolves in the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness until at least November of 2015.

Idaho's Wildlife Bureau Chief Jeff Gould made the declaration in a document filed with the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals last week.

The Fish and Game Department and the U.S. Forest Service are being sued by Defenders of Wildlife, Western Watersheds Project and other environmental groups over the plan to have a hired hunter kill wolves in the protected wilderness area.

The conservation groups contend that the U.S. Forest Service violated the federal Wilderness Act when it allowed the state's hunter to use an air strip and a cabin in the wilderness earlier this year.


Former deputy acquitted in domestic battery trial

TWIN FALLS, Idaho (AP) - A Twin Falls County jury has acquitted a former sheriff's deputy of three counts of felony domestic battery.

The Times-News reports jurors deliberated for about two hours Monday before acquitting Michael Cooper.

Cooper was charged in April 2013 with four counts of felony domestic battery after a woman reported he had abused and intimidated her over the course of several years. One count was dismissed before trial.

Cooper's attorney, Keith Roark, said in one case Cooper was responding to being battered, in another the woman fell in the driveway and in a third she ran into a freezer.

Special prosecutor Dan Dinger questioned Cooper's credibility. Cooper testified the charges cost him his job, but under cross examination he acknowledged he lost it for other reasons. Cooper had been with the sheriff's office for 15 years.


2 bodies found in Twin Falls house

TWIN FALLS, Idaho (AP) - Police in Twin Falls are investigating the deaths of two people whose bodies were found in a house.

City spokesman Joshua Palmer says a mail carrier spotted a body in the house late Tuesday morning and called police. Officers found a second body.

Capt. Anthony Barnhart says detectives believe they have identified the deceased but are not releasing their names.

Palmer could not say where the bodies were in the home, the ages of the male and female who were found or a possible cause of death.

The Times-News reports the county prosecutor was at the scene talking to detectives.


Woman pleads guilty in Elk City beating death

GRANGEVILLE, Idaho (AP) - A north-central Idaho woman has pleaded guilty to a reduced charge for causing fatal injuries during an argument with a woman over cosmetics, a necklace and a compact disc.

The Lewiston Tribune reports 27-year-old Tara R. Mendenhall of Elk City pleaded guilty Monday to voluntary manslaughter for a Sept. 24 fight with 45-year-old Lora K. Vandenburg. Vandenburg died on Oct. 8 from bleeding in the brain.

Mendenhall was initially charged with second-degree murder. She testified that she and two others had stopped at a house in Elk City and when they returned to the car, Vandenberg was holding some of her belongings.

Mendenhall says she punched Vandenburg and pulled her out of the car, causing Vandenburg to fall to the ground.

District Judge Michael Griffin scheduled sentencing for Sept. 22.


Idaho boy recovering from rattlesnake bite

LEWISTON, Idaho (AP) - A 6-year-old western Idaho boy who suffered a rattlesnake bite on his big toe is recovering in the intensive care unit at a Spokane hospital.

Courtney Hines of Culdesac tells the Lewiston Tribune that her son, Kaden McKenzie, was bitten on Saturday afternoon at the beach, about nine miles south of Asotin.

Hines says her son suffered excruciating pain and was taken to an area hospital before being flown to Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center in Spokane. She says he won't need surgery and he may be able to come home by the end of the week.

Hines says it'll be a few weeks before he's fully recuperated and he doesn't want to go back to that beach.

Hines says someone at the beach killed the snake.


Idaho's new Highway 16 extension set to open

BOISE, Idaho (AP) - A new stretch of highway in southwestern Idaho will be open to the public next month.

The 2.5-mile extension on Idaho Highway 16 is the state's first step toward creating a four-lane expressway from Emmett to Interstate 84. The work comes with a price tag of $111 million, including design, engineering, land acquisition and construction. The work was financed with GARVEE bonds, which allowed the state to borrow money for road projects and repay it with future federal highway payments.

The Idaho Statesman reports that the new stretch of highway will open to the public on the afternoon of Aug. 15.


Labrador names new press secretary

BOISE, Idaho (AP) - Longtime Idaho political reporter Dan Popkey will be the new press secretary for U.S. Congressman Raul Labrador.

Popkey resigned from the Idaho Statesman Tuesday, after reporting at the newspaper for nearly 30 years. During that time, he covered 26 sessions of the Idaho Legislature.

Popkey will remain based in Idaho, working out of Labrador's office in Meridian.

Popkey has been twice named Idaho's reporter of the year by the Idaho Press Club and was a Pulitzer Prize finalist for his 2007 coverage of former Idaho U.S. Sen. Larry Craig. He has a bachelor's in political science from Santa Clara University and a master's in journalism from Columbia University.

Labrador says Popkey's experience and knowledge of Idaho's political history will be an asset to his staff.

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