Friday, August 5, 2005

Deputy prosecutor announces resignation

Seeks greener pastures in Boise

Express Staff Writer

Blaine County Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Justin Whatcott, center, talks with County Prosecuting Attorney Jim Thomas, left, and Sheriff Walt Femling following the conviction of Sarah M. Johnson in March this year for the September 2003 murder of her parents, Diane and Alan Johnson, in Bellevue.

Blaine County will soon lose one of its two deputy prosecuting attorneys.

Justin Whatcott has stated his intention to leave the office on Aug. 15 for a job with the Ada County Prosecutor's Office.

"I'm not leaving because I didn't like it here," Whatcott said. "I loved my time here. I just want to get more trial experience."

He said he expects to accomplish that in the relatively big city of Boise, where he will begin work on Aug. 22.

Four attorneys work in the county prosecutor's office—two who handle felonies, one who handles misdemeanors and one who handles civil matters.

Whatcott arrived in Blaine County in June 2001, fresh out of law school at the University of Idaho. He began by working on misdemeanors, but has since helped prosecute some of the county's biggest recent cases, including the Sarah Johnson murder trial, the David Santistevan attempted-murder trial, the Snyder kidnapping case and two major drug trafficking cases.

However, he said, those big cases are not the norm in a peaceful place like the Wood River Valley.

Whatcott has also cited Blaine County's high cost of living as a reason for his departure.

County Prosecuting Attorney Jim Thomas said Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Warren Christopher will be promoted to Whatcott's position, and the county will advertise for a new attorney.

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