© 2011 Idaho Press-Tribune
BOISE — Although Sen. John McGee has not told his side of a bizarre story that ended Sunday morning when he was booked into the Ada County Jail on charges of DUI and grand theft, there may be a few clues to what happened:
A medical condition may have been a factor, his attorney told a district judge Monday during McGee’s arraignment.
McGee may have walked several miles to get to his parents’ house in the same neighborhood where he was found in a 2004 Red Ford Excursion.
The man who found the senator in the back seat of the vehicle said McGee seemed drugged like “someone slipped him a mickey.”
Calls to the senator were not returned.
McGee, the father of two, serves as senator for District 10, which includes residents of Caldwell, Greenleaf and Wilder. He serves as Senate Majority Caucus Chairman and chairman of the Canyon County Republican Central Committee.
McGee posted bail Monday after a judge set bond at $5,000 in an arraignment hearing in Boise. The senator was arrested and charged with misdemeanor drunken driving and felony grand theft after police say he was found Sunday in a stolen vehicle in the early morning.
McGee’s attorney, Scott McKay, told the judge there may be a medical explanation for the incident and claimed the charges were out of character for McGee, who did not speak during the hearing.
McGee was found inside the stolen vehicle at the house of Joe Carleton. McGee told Carleton he had come from a golf tournament at Hillcrest Golf Course, located about six miles from the house.
“He was in a state of confusion. He was disoriented,” Carleton said. “It was almost like somebody slipped him something.”
Unconfirmed reports indicate McGee left a golf course on foot earlier in the evening. Though unconfirmed at this time, if McGee had indeed been at Hillcrest earlier in the evening, how he arrived at Carleton’s house after 2 a.m. is unknown.
If McGee had intended to walk to his parents’ house, it could explain the long gap between when he was last seen and when he was discovered.
Tom and Judy McGee live on S. Goshen Way, about 2,000 feet (less than half a mile) from the house where the senator crashed the vehicle, causing about $2,100 in damage.
Carleton said his sons, ages 16 and 18, observed the man, who police identified as McGee, enter their driveway in the vehicle and try to turn it around, but it jackknifed with the attached trailer. McGee then walked around the property until he spotted the boys in the window. He then returned to the vehicle, where Carleton approached him.
Carleton said McGee unlocked the car door for the homeowner and said McGee emphasized that he was in the backseat, not the driver’s seat. An officer on the scene also stated in a report that McGee claimed he was just a passenger in the vehicle.
Carleton said McGee was barefoot and had several scrapes and cuts on his legs and a bleeding gash on his knee. The senator was wearing shorts, a polo shirt and hat.
“He was cut up. He was dirty. It looked like he had been in a fight,” Carleton said.
McGee told officers he was headed to Jackpot, Nev. Carleton said McGee said he was “in the promised land.” When Carleton’s wife stood in the window wearing a white robe, McGee told Carleton she was an angel.
Carleton has interacted with McGee in the past but said he did not recognize the senator at the time due to McGee’s altered state.
Carleton said McGee was cooperative with police when they arrived.
“He’s a nice guy, I feel so sorry for him and his family,” Carleton said. “He’s a good man in a bad situation.”
Carleton said, in his opinion, McGee did not seem to be drunk.
“He wasn’t belligerent, he wasn’t slurring,” Carleton said. “I didn’t think he was drunk. I think there was something other than alcohol.”
A police report indicated McGee had:
- Odor of alcoholic beverage
- Admitted to drinking alcoholic beverage
- Glassy eyes
- Bloodshot eyes
- Slurred speech
- Slow/lethargic movements
- Impaired memory
According to the report, McGee failed three field sobriety tests and officers then administered a breath test, in which the senator’s BAC registered 0.15 and 0.143. People are considered too drunk to drive if the BAC exceeds 0.08.
“Those are pretty high numbers,” Lt. Dana Borgquist with the Ada County Sheriff’s Office said, of the level at which McGee failed each test.
The report indicated drugs were not suspected and a drug analysis was not performed.
The complaint filed by the prosecution listed the stolen vehicle as a 2004 red Ford Excursion with an attached trailer. According to the complaint read in court, McGee caused about $2,100 worth of damage to the vehicle and trailer.
The vehicle belongs to Sean Marron. His wife Laurie Marron said the 20-foot, dirt bike trailer was hooked up to the Excursion right at their front door. She and her husband were surprised someone took the vehicle when it was parked a few feet from their house.
“It’s like really crazy, I can’t believe it. Who does that? Who takes cars?” she said.
Marron raised the question of how coherent McGee was because he must have looked for the car keys.
“I always keep the keys above the visor, he had to look around for the keys, so that was kind of odd,” she said.