James D. Whitewater faced life in prison if he was convicted of first-degree murder in a fatal shooting last summer outside a Nampa Walgreens. Co-defendant Joshua Wasserburger could have been sent away for life, too, if convicted of aiding and abetting first-degree murder.

The two men's defense attorneys spoke with prosecutors, making a case for reduced charges that would bring shorter sentences. Canyon County prosecutors wouldn't budge. They were headed to trial.

Judges in both cases asked prosecutors and defense attorneys to consider sitting down with a semiretired judge acting as a mediator, in an attempt to find a resolution.

In 2013, 150 criminal cases were settled through mediation statewide. The 31 judges certified as criminal mediators have handled cases throughout Idaho's seven judicial districts.

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