Tag Archives: crime

Man who was facing 50-year sexual abuse sentence is cleared after a dog is found

An already shaky sexual abuse case against an Oregon man has been dismissed after the dog the victim said her assailant shot and killed was found alive and well.

The discovery of Lucy, a black Lab mix, led to dismissing all charges against Johsua Horner, who had initially been convicted and received a 50-year sentence.

Horner had been released from prison last month, pending a new trial ordered by the Oregon Court of Appeals, which had reversed his conviction because the defense had not been allowed to present other evidence — unrelated to the dog — at the first trial.

Horner, a plumber from the central Oregon town of Redmond, was convicted in April 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, he asked the Oregon Innocence Project for help.

A year later the group shared its findings with with Deschutes County District Attorney John Hummel, and he agreed to work with them.

An Oregon Innocence Project volunteer and an official from Hummel’s office searched for the dog, tracking down rumors that she had been given away.

Finally, they located Lucy’s new owners and visited them at their home outside 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, the Oregon Innocence Project volunteer.

Lucy was identified by an undisputed chain of custody and her looks, the Associated Press reported.

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

The new evidence — that Lucy was never shot — 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.

Deschutes County Judge Michael Adler dismissed the case after Hummel told the court Monday he’s not convinced that Horner abused the girl, a minor, whose name is being withheld in news reports. Hummel said when his investigators tried to interview the girl again last week, she ran away.

Horner, in a statement released by the Oregon Innocence Project, thanked the group, his family, friends and Hummel.

“Kelli and I are ready to pick up the pieces of our lives,” he said, referring to his wife.

It was the first exoneration for the Oregon Innocence Project, launched in 2014 to exonerate the wrongfully convicted and promote legal reforms.

(Photo: At top, Lucy, after she was discovered, by Oregon Innocence Project; lower, Josh Horner with his wife Kelli Horner after his release from the Deschutes County Jail in Bend, Ore., Aug. 3, 2018; by Valerie Wright / Associated Press)

After 38 years in prison, innocent man freed — and gets to bring his dog home, too

At first glance this story made no sense — a man who spent the past 38 years in prison wins his freedom when his innocence is finally proven and is reunited with his dog.

No dog — no matter how loyal to his owner — lives that long.

Turns out though, that Malcolm Alexander came into possession of the dog while serving his sentence at the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola, a facility which, while it has a reputation as a tough place, offers several dog programs and even breeds its own guard dogs.

Alexander, 58, had been proclaiming his innocence since he was convicted of sexual assault and sent to prison at age 20.

On Tuesday, he was welcomed home by his 82-year-old mother, his son and his grandson – both named Malcolm, and other relatives.

Earlier in the day, A Jefferson Parish judge vacated Alexander’s 1980 aggravated rape conviction and his mandatory life sentence after finding that Alexander had not been provided with adequate legal assistance, and that DNA evidence discovered in 2013 excluded Alexander as a suspect in the sexual assault.

After the ruling, Alexander did not return to the prison, where both his belongings and his dog remained.

innocenceThe next day, he was reunited with the huge black Lab, Nola.com reported.

“You ain’t got nothing to worry about no more,” he told the 9-month-old pup upon reuniting with him. “I told you we gonna be free. I told you they was gonna get us out.”

Alexander’s case was undertaken by The Innocence Project, which helped him gain his freedom.

Alexander had raised the dog since shortly after his birth. He named the dog Innocence, and calls him Inn for short.

Inn was born at the prison to another dog at the facility, according to Vanessa Potkin, an attorney with The Innocence Project.

Potkin and other staffers traveled to Angola Wednesday to retrieve Inn and Alexander’s property and return them to Alexander.

(Photo: Michelle Hunter \ NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune)

He wanted a lawyer, dawg, not a lawyer dog

entrapmentClearly, there’s a bit of a cultural divide between the gritty streets of New Orleans and the plush chambers of the Louisiana Supreme Court.

And that might explain why the state justices denied a request to hear the appeal of a man awaiting trial who says remarks he made to police after he asked for “a lawyer dog” were used against him.

Apparently the state Supreme Court, didn’t buy his contention that he was asking for “a lawyer, dawg.”

So, for the lack of a comma in a transcript, he’s facing a mandatory sentence of life in prison.

Asking for “a lawyer dog,” the state’s high court said, was an “ambiguous” request.

Here, based on police transcripts, is exactly what Warren Demesme told a detective:

“This is how I feel, if y’all think I did it, I know that I didn’t do it so why don’t you just give me a lawyer dog cause this is not what’s up.”

In an attempt to suppress what police said was a confession, Demesme contended that police denied his constitutional right to an attorney when they questioned him two years ago.

But to the Supreme Court, asking for a “lawyer dog” wasn’t a clear enough request to make clear he was attempting to exercise his Miranda rights.

Apparently, under the courts thinking, he could have been asking to be represented by an actual lawyer dog — maybe an F. Lee Beagle or a Johnnie Cockerspaniel, or that lawyer dog who appears in recurring dog memes. (That’s him, above)

All of this would be laughable (or mildly amusing) if not for the serious of the case.

Warren DemesmeDemesme, 24, was arrested in October 2015 on allegations that he sexually assaulted two juvenile victims, including the rape of one preteen girl. He faces a mandatory life sentence if convicted of the rape charge, NOLA.com reports.

Justices voted 6-1 last week to deny the writ application of Demesme, who awaits trial in Orleans Parish on charges of first-degree rape and indecent behavior with a juvenile under 13.

Demesme was seeking to suppress a purportedly incriminating statement made to NOPD sex crimes detective Nijel Baddoo. Demesme admitted to sexually assaulting one of the child accusers, but denied doing so to the other, according to arrest documents.

State Supreme Court Justice Scott J. Crichton concurred with the majority opinion issued late Friday that Demesme did not clearly invoke his right to counsel.

Crichton cited a 2002 state Supreme Court decision that requires a certain level of clarity in a suspect or defendant’s request for counsel.

“As this court has written, ‘If a suspect makes a reference to an attorney that is ambiguous or equivocal in that a reasonable police officer in light of the circumstances would have understood only that the suspect might be invoking his right to counsel, the cessation of questioning is not required,'” Crichton wrote.

In both recorded interviews with police, Demesme was read his Miranda rights, said he understood them and waived those rights, Crichton said.

“In my view, the defendant’s ambiguous and equivocal reference to a ‘lawyer dog’ does not constitute an invocation of counsel that warrants termination of the interview,” he wrote.

Turning stray dogs into crime fighters

Strutting down the street together in their matching vests, these Thailand dogs look a little like an alliance of superheroes — and that’s the idea.

The nonprofit animal welfare organization Soi Dog has teamed up with an advertising agency in Thailand to develop a program that will turn Bangkok’s stray dogs into crime fighters.

The plan is to outfit strays with camera-equipped vests. The cameras activate when a dog wearing the vest barks aggressively and the video is transmitted to police agencies or anyone else who wants to watch via a mobile phone or commuter application.

Stray dogs are abundant in Bangkok and other Thai cities — and they are often looked down upon or abused.

smartvestThe “smart vest,” according to those refining the prototype, could help their public image, protect them from foul play and provide more eyes on the streets and alleys of Thailand’s big cities.

In that way, the dogs often viewed as nuisances would become guardians angels on the crime-ridden streets and alleyways where they live their lives.

“It will make people feel that stray dogs can become night-watches for the communities,” Pakornkrit Khantaprap, a member of the creative team that came up with the idea at the Cheil advertising agency, a subsidiary of South Korea’s Samsung Electronics, told Reuters.

The project began in March this year and took about five months to reach the point where it could be tested.

The developer says a lot more tests are needed before the vest can be introduced into communities for trial runs.

Martin Turner, managing director of the Phuket-based Soi Dog Foundation, which works to save stray dogs and cats across Thailand, welcomed the initiative.

Turner says there are many cases of cruelty against street dogs in Thailand, despite the introduction of the country’s first Animal Welfare Law in late 2014.

The long-term goal of the project is to create a more harmonious and mutually beneficial relationship between strays and their communities.

“Our aim is to get people to perceive stray dogs in a better way and ultimately, solve the stray dog issue in the long term,” Pakornkrit explained. “The stray dog issue is becoming more crucial in Thailand. This issue leads to a bigger problem of animal cruelty and dog meat trades. We do not want to see that.”

(Video and photo from Reuters)

Could a DNA test prove dog’s innocence?

Up to now, DNA testing on dogs has been used mostly to satisfy owner curiosity over what breeds are in their mutt, or by apartment managers who want to identify dogs whose owners didn’t pick up after them.

Now comes a chance to put it to more noble use. (Cue up the “Law & Order” theme.)

jebThe owners of a Belgian Malinois accused of killing a neighbor dog say a DNA test could clear their dog of a murder rap.

A district judge in Michigan ordered Jeb, the Belgian Malinois, to be euthanized after hearing the evidence against him on Sept. 19.

But Jeb’s owners, Pam and Kenneth Job, have filed a motion for DNA testing to be conducted on the dead dog, a Pomeranian named Vlad.

Vlad died Aug. 24, and his owner, St. Clair resident Christopher Sawa, says he saw Jeb standing over his dog’s body. Both dogs were inside his backyard.

St. Clair County Animal Control took possession of Jeb after that.

Vlad was found with severe bruising over both shoulders and a puncture wound on his right front leg. There was another deep wound found on his left side that penetrated his chest and broke two ribs, the Detroit Free Press reported.

vladThe veterinarian who examined Vlad said his injuries were consistent with being picked up and shaken by a larger animal.

Ed Marshall, the lawyer for the Jobs, is asking the judge to allow them time to have an independent lab test conducted on Vlad’s body — to see if traces of Jeb’s DNA can be found in his wounds.

A hearing on his motion is set for Monday.

The Jobs say Jeb is an unofficial service dog who helps Kenneth with a condition that causes his muscles to deteriorate.

They say Jeb is a gentle soul and that Vlad’s death could have been caused by a fox or coyote, both of which can be seen from time to time in the rural area in which they live.

Three lowly cowards rob blind man after knocking out his guide dog

Three men in Hartford knocked a blind man’s guide dog unconscious before robbing him of his wallet.

Francis Shannon, of Sigourney Street in Hartford, was walking his guide dog, Lady, near his home around midnight Aug. 2 when three men attacked and robbed him, according to NBC Connecticut.

“They hit the dog, knocked her out. I thought she was dead,” Shannon said. “She’s my everything. I can’t go anywhere without her,” Shannon said.

Shannon suffered minor injuries, and delayed in reporting the robbery to police because the attackers threatened to hurt him if he did.

They said, ‘If you call the cops, we’ll kill you,'” Shannon explained. “And they took my money – which I had my rent money, cards my ID – everything was in my wallet.”

He said he didn’t leave his house for days after the attack, but finally decided to call police.

Police say Shannon identified the voices of the attackers as those of three young men he has heard hanging out at a neighborhood grocery store.

Police are seeking the public’s help in finding the assailants. Anyone with information about the robbery and assault is urged to call Hartford police Sgt. O’Brien at 860-757-4089.

20 dogs died at Arizona boarding facility

Maricopa County sheriff’s officials are investigating the deaths of 20 dogs, most of whom died overnight at a pet boarding service in Gilbert, Arizona.

Deputies say a dog chewed through an electric cord, shutting down the air conditioning and leading to the heat-related deaths of the dogs in the care of Green Acre Dog Boarding.

That temperatures didn’t rise above 80 degrees that night is just one of several suspicious circumstances surrounding the deaths.

The caretakers for the dog’s over the weekend were identified by Fox 10 News as the son and daughter-in-law of US Senator Jeff Flake.

The couple were caring for the dogs while the company’s owners — identified as MaLeisa and Todd Hughes — were visiting Florida.

“This is truly an accident,” co-owner MaLeisa Hughes said. “We’re heartbroken for everybody. The biggest misconception out there is we went two days without doing anything.”

Todd Hughes admitted telling some clients that their dogs had run away.

“I wasn’t thinking straight, but I should have thought better than that,” Todd Hughes told the Arizona Republic. “Nobody trained me on how to handle this. I made a bad decision. It was terrible.”

“My mom and all these people have been driving around looking for their dogs for two hours to find out the dogs are dead in the shed,” said Doug Hart, who went to the boarding center to pick up his sister’s two dogs.

Valerie Collins and her husband said they weren’t allowed inside the property when they arrived. She said the owner of the business eventually brought the bodies of her dogs, Carson and Daisy, to them.

“Our dogs have been dead for two days,” she said. “They’re rotten.”

The Hughes said they’d been caring for dogs about six years, but only opened up to the public about a year and a half ago.

They returned to the Phoenix area Friday after learning of the deaths, which included one of their own dogs.

According to the sheriff’s department, workers arrived at the facility at 5:30 Friday morning to find a large number of dogs dead or dying. The workers said they’d last checked on the dogs late Thursday night.

“There is going to be a follow-up investigation … It doesn’t end here,” sheriff’s spokesman Chris Hegstrom told AZCentral.com.” Sheriff’s officials called the deaths “a tragic accident.”

“There are a lot of questions that both this Sheriff and the dog’s owners have and believe me by the time we are done with this investigation, we’ll have the answers to most, if not all of the questions,” Sheriff Joe Arpaio said in a press conference yesterday.

“If a crime occurred, someone will be held accountable,” he said.

Arpaio placed the number of dog deaths at 20, three more than originally thought, but other reports said 21 dogs had died.

Outrage over the death extends beyond the families who lost pets. A Facebook page called “The Tragedy at Green Acre Dog Boarding” is serving as a forum for those seeking answers to what happened.