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After Man Was Wrongfully Convicted And Sentenced to 50 Years, A Dog Gets Him Exonerated

A man from Oregon was facing 50 years in prison after being convicted of sexually abusing a minor in April of 2017. Something about the accuser's story didn't add up, however, and the man sought help to get the conviction overturned.

A group took on the man's case and his entire future depended on one thing: a black lab named Lucy.

Joshua Horner, a plumber from Redmond, Oregon, was just six months into a 50 year sentence when he enlisted the help of the Oregon Innocence Project. The group takes cases of people when they believe they might have been wrongfully convicted, and they began investigating Horner's case.

Horner was convicted to five decades, even though the jury's verdict was not unanimous. The group got Deschutes County District Attorney John Hummel to work with them to see if a terrible mistake had been made.

During the trial, the person who accused Horner said he threatened to shoot her animals if she reported the alleged incident of molestation of the police. To make his point, the witness claimed Horner shot her black lab, Lucy, and killed the dog in front of her.

Horner denied ever shooting a dog, and the entire story came down to a 'he said/she said' situation. The Oregon Innocence Project realized that if they found the dog-- dead or alive-- they might be able to confirm whether or not the story is true. They began looking for the pooch-- or at least, for its corpse.

An official from Hummel's office took on the task of searching, and discovered that the black lab had not been killed. Lucy had been given away. Investigators knew they had to track down the dog.

"They made a couple trips around Deschutes County; he was not there," said Steve Wax from the Oregon Innocence Project. "We heard he was in Seattle. Then we learned he had a place on the Oregon Coast."

The investigators finally tracked down Lucy, who was alive and well and living with new owners in Gearhart, Oregon. "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 for the Oregon Innocence Project.

Between the dogs looks and tracing a chain of those who had custody of Lucy, investigators were able to confirm it was the actual dog that the witness claims was shot and killed by the convict. "She's a very distinctive-looking black Lab; not purebred. She's got this adorable shaped head and really long ears," said Christon.

"Lucy the dog was not shot. Lucy the dog is alive and well," said a statement put out by Hummel's office. This proved that the complainant wasn't honest in her testimony, which was a key piece of evidence in the case. Because of this, the person's testimony unraveled and became unreliable.

An appeals court determined that the defense was not allowed to present another piece of evidence that might have helped Horner's case, and he had been granted a second trial. Now, with the evidence of Lucy being alive, a judge dismissed the case and set Horner free.

According to Hummel, it doesn't mean Horner didn't sexually abuse the complainant. However, it did mean that there was reasonable doubt.

Deschutes County Judge Michael Adler dismissed the case. Horner thanked the Oregon Innocence Project, Hummel and all involved in his case for giving him a second chance.

Source: AP News
Photos: Oregon Innocence Project/Facebook, Oregon Innocence Project/Twitter, General Services Administration/Wikimedia

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