Monday, September 10, 2018
SALEM, Ore. (AP) — The discovery of a black lab named Lucy led to the unravelling of a criminal case today against an Oregon man who had begun serving a 50-year prison sentence.
Joshua Horner, a plumber from the central Oregon town of Redmond, was convicted on April 12, 2017, of sexual abuse of a minor.
In the trial, the complainant testified Horner had threatened to shoot her animals if she went to the police about the alleged molestation, and said she saw him shoot her dog, killing it, to make his point.
Six months after a jury convicted Horner in a verdict that was not unanimous, he asked the Oregon Innocence Project for help. The group took up his case.
When the group raised concerns in April about the case with Deschutes County District Attorney John Hummel, he agreed to work with them.
Horner had insisted he never shot the dog. Finding the dog would show the complainant had lied under oath. But if it was alive, where was it?
An Oregon Innocence Project volunteer and an official from Hummel's office searched for it. The black lab had reportedly had been given away by Horner's then-girlfriend. The investigators were sniffing on the trail, but they had trouble tracking down the purported dog's owner.
"They made a couple trips around Deschutes County; he was not there," said Steve Wax, legal director of the Oregon Innocence Project. "We heard he was in Seattle. Then we learned he had a place on the Oregon Coast."
It was there, in the town of Gearhart northwest of Portland, that the pair finally found Lucy. That key evidence showed the complainant had not been truthful when testifying, the district attorney said.
"Lucy the dog was not shot. Lucy the dog is alive and well," Hummel's office said in a statement.