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Tag: innocence

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)

Jeb is off death row, thanks to DNA test

jebheadshomeDNA evidence has cleared many an innocent man, but for what may be the first time ever it has been used to free a dog on death row.

Jeb, a Belgian Malinois, had been in the custody of St.Clair County animal control since Aug. 24 after being accused of killing a neighbor dog.

He was released to his owners in Port Huron, Mich., yesterday.

We first told you about the case at the end of September.

That’s when the judge who had ordered Jeb put down agreed to hear a motion putting off his euthanization pending the results of a DNA test on the dog who was killed.

That dog, a Pomeranian named Vlad, was found dead in his yard 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.

vlad

Vlad, the Pomeranian

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

Based on the circumstantial evidence, a district judge in Michigan ordered Jeb to be euthanized after hearing the evidence against him on Sept. 19.

Jeb’s owners, Pam and Kenneth Job, then asked the court to allow them time to have an independent lab conduct DNA tests on Vlad’s body — to see if traces of Jeb’s DNA could be found in his wounds.

In October, the judge issued a 30-day stay on the euthanization to allow the Jobs to conduct a DNA test.

DNA samples taken from Vlad did not match those of Jeb, according to a report issued by the University of Florida’s Maples Center for Forensic Medicine dated Oct. 24, the Detroit Free Press reported yesterday.

A consent judgment was signed yesterday that allowed the Jobs to take Jeb home.

jebfacebookpageThe judgment has conditions attached, including requiring the Jobs to provide fencing and insurance coverage, according to prosecutor Mike Wendling.

He said community members and animal advocacy groups have helped the family meet those terms.

Friends and family also started a “Free Jeb” Facebook page, on which the family yesterday posted a photo of Jeb on the way home.

A a petition at change.org requesting Jeb’s release received more than 98,000 signatures.

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.

Getting to know you

Dog and baby videos are a dime a dozen.

But there’s something about this one — perhaps it’s a reminder of the innocence and curiosity we (dogs and humans) are born with, and which we (mainly humans) tend to let slip away.

So, at no cost to us (we ripped it off of Facebook), here’s a look at a dog and a baby — still pure and untainted — getting to know each other.