BURLEY • Cutting off an ankle monitor and fleeing to Twin Falls in July 2015 will cost the boyfriend of missing Burley woman Tiffani Streling some jail time.
During Tuesday’s probation violation status hearing in Cassia County, Judge Michael Crabtree commuted James McLaws’ sentence to six years in prison with two years fixed.
The 34-year-old, who faces cases in three counties for one July escape to Twin Falls, was silent in court as McCord Larsen, Cassia County’s deputy prosecutor, asked for a unified six-year prison sentence with three fixed.
“This is not Mr. McLaws’ first go-around with criminal behavior,” Larsen said. “And I think the sentence is merited ...”
July 2015 wasn’t the only time McLaws fled from officers.
In September 2012, McLaws, who had an active warrant, led police on a chase on the interstate that clocked at more than 110 mph. He wrecked his car in a field east of the 500 West overpass and took off on foot, court records said.
He was caught in the weeds by two Cassia County deputies who found on him a small container that had residue and wet cotton balls, court records said. An Idaho State Police trooper found in McLaws’ car three plastic bags, one which contained 0.9 grams of white crystals, a large spoon with white residue and three syringes.
He was charged in Minidoka County and ordered to probation for eluding an officer and possession of a controlled substance.
Less than three years later, in May 2015, McLaws was dating then-21-year-old Streling. After the Burley woman went missing, an attorney for McLaws at the time revealed in court his client was a “person of interest” since he was the last person to see her.
As the one-year mark of her disappearance approaches, Streling, now 22, has yet to be found. There were rumors that placed her in Washington, Canada and Arizona. Nothing checked out.
Law enforcement officials weren’t available on Tuesday to comment on the investigation and whether McLaws is still a “person of interest” — or if there is even a suspect one year later.
Instead, the last person to see Streling will spend at least two years in prison concurrent with his sentences in Twin Falls and Minidoka County.
Last summer, McLaws, serving probation for unrelated charges in Cassia County, took off his ankle monitor and fled to Twin Falls. In a dramatic scene, he hit a parked vehicle and took off running into an industrial area, where several officers found him and held him at gun point. He admitted to smoking marijuana and methamphetamine.
The incident reopened the two Mini-Cassia cases and introduced a new one in Twin Falls, where he was sentenced on May 3 to 15 years in prison with four fixed for possession of a controlled substance.
On Tuesday, his attorney said his client will likely appeal.
Back in Cassia County, Judge Crabtree informed McLaws he has the right to appeal his sentence.
“Good luck to you, sir,” he said.
McLaws is scheduled for a May 16 evidentiary hearing in Minidoka County for two probation violations stemming from the Twin Falls incident.