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Man jailed for child sex abuse freed after ‘dead black labrador’ found alive


The discovery of a living labrador has led to a man jailed for 50 years over child sex abuse claims walking free from jail and the collapse of the case against him.

Joshua Horner, from the US state of Oregon, was convicted last April.

The alleged victim testified that Horner had shot and killed her dog Lucy as a warning that he would shoot her animals if she went to the police.

Horner asked the Oregon Innocence Project to help him find the dog to show the girl had lied.

The distinctive black pet had apparently been given away and the group began searching for her, supported by district attorney John Hummel.

Steve Wax, legal director of the Oregon Innocence Project, said: “They made a couple trips around Deschutes County; he was not there.

“We heard he was in Seattle. Then we learned he had a place on the Oregon coast.”

The dog was eventually tracked down to Gearhart, a town northwest of Portland.

“She was drinking a bowl of water and sitting in shade underneath a porch. We played with her. Petted her. It was wonderful,” said Lisa Christon, a volunteer with the Oregon Innocence Project.

Josh Horner with his wife Kelli. Pic: Oregon Innocence Project
Image:
Joshua Horner with his wife Kelli. Pic: Oregon Innocence Project

Lucy was identified through her previous owners and her unique looks.

“She’s a very distinctive-looking black Lab; not purebred. She’s got this adorable shaped head and really long ears,” Ms Christon said.

The discovery showed the girl had not told the truth about the dog when she testified and cast doubt on her story.

Horner was freed from prison in Pendleton last month after the state appeals court ordered a new trial and reversed his conviction.

The court said the defence had not been allowed to present other evidence unrelated to the dog.

But following Lucy’s discovery, the girl did not show up for a meeting to discuss her testimony.

She also ran away when one of the district attorney’s staff pulled up at her house last week, said Mr Hummel.

On Monday, a judge dismissed the case against Joshua Horner and the retrial will not take place.

The district attorney told the court he could not say for sure that Horner had not abused the girl – but also that he was not convinced that he had.

Horner walked out of the court holding his wife’s hand and said the couple wanted to “pick up the pieces of our lives”.

The district attorney said the “dead dog” claims were first brought up at the trial and so had not been investigated before, and that they had “no credible reason” to doubt the girl’s statement.



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