Twin Falls mosque

A late-October crime at the Islamic Center of Twin Falls has resulted in plenty of controversy, but still no arrests. On the morning of Oct. 28, the center’s caretaker discovered a 4-foot cross draped in butchered pig parts in the parking lot. It wasn’t the first time the Islamic Center was targeted: the center has been both vandalized and threatened in recent years.

The incident, which authorities labeled a hate crime, raised concerns among local religious communities about the safety of places of worship. To address these concerns, the Twin Falls police department hosted a forum in early November to help faith leaders learn what to do if faced with an act of violence.

On Dec. 2, the Faith Leaders of the Magic Valley held an interfaith rally to celebrate the diversity of religions in Twin Falls. “This is to show others and people in the community that we are a welcoming town and this sort of behavior will not be tolerated,” Haroon Rashid, an outreach leader for the Islamic Center and one of the rally’s organizers, told the Times-News.

Alex Jones/Chobani

Radio host and conspiracy theorist Alex Jones took on yogurt maker Chobani and lost, issuing an apology in May after the company filed a lawsuit against him.

Reports published on Jones’ website, InfoWars.com, in early April connected the Chobani factory in Twin Falls, which employs refugees, to a June 2016 incident in which three young boys from refugee families were accused of sexually assaulting a 5-year-old girl. The headline “Idaho Yogurt Maker Caught Importing Migrant Rapists” quickly spread online through Twitter and right-wing blogs.

Jay Janner/Austin American-Statesman via AP, File
In this April 19 file photo, Alex Jones, a well-known Austin-based broadcaster and provocateur, arrives for a child custody trial at the Heman Marion Sweatt Travis County Courthouse in Austin, Texas. Greek yogurt giant Chobani is suing Jones, accusing the conspiracy theorist of publishing false information about the company. Chobani filed the lawsuit Monday, April 24.

Later that month, Chobani filed a lawsuit against Jones in Federal District Court in Twin Falls County, on the grounds that InfoWars had posted “false” and “defamatory” reports about Chobani and its founder, Hamdi Ulukaya. On May 17, Jones apologized in a statement at the end of one of his broadcasts, saying he had retracted the inflammatory tweets and video.

Storrer trial

The man who assisted with the 2015 murder of Kent Storrer was sentenced to at least 24 years in prison in August. Jerry Burton Kimball, 24, drove convicted murderer Jacob Lyn Marshall to the Twin Falls house where the two met with Storrer’s son-in-law, Jasper Qualls, to test drive a Mitsubishi that Qualls was selling on Craigslist.

After test driving the car, Marshall opened fire with an AR-15 rifle, killing Storrer and injuring Qualls, before driving away with Kimball in the stolen car. Kimball’s infant daughter was in his car at the time of the shooting.

In his statement at the sentencing, Kimball maintained that he didn’t know Marshall was planning to kill anyone, and said he regretted not calling the police.

He will serve at least 24 years in prison with the potential for additional 21.

Dietrich football team resolution

Nearly two years after a black, mentally disabled Dietrich High School football player was assaulted with a coat hanger by three white teammates, the Dietrich School District agreed to settle a federal lawsuit stemming from the case.

DREW NASH, TIMES-NEWS
John R.K. Howard (facing left) embraces defense attorney Ira Dillman after his sentencing hearing Friday, Feb. 24, 2017, at the courthouse in Twin Falls, Idaho. John R.K Howard, 19, was sentenced in Twin Falls County District Court to three years of probation and 300 hours of community service on a charge of felony injury to a child. The judge also granted a withheld judgement, meaning the conviction could eventually be dismissed.

The victim’s family had filed a $10 million lawsuit in 2016 alleging that the school was aware of months of racial harassment and abuse against the victim at the hands of his fellow students, and had failed to address it. Investigations by an attorney general and former superintendent/principal Ben Hardcastle revealed a culture of bullying and possible racism on the Dietrich High School football team.

A monetary settlement for an undisclosed amount was reached between the district and the victim, the victim’s attorney confirmed in early October.

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