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Tag: new trial

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)

New trial in “Phoenix” case gets postponed

Update: The re-trial of brothers Travers and Tremayne Johnson, set to begin Wednesday, has been postponed to July 26.

Twins Travers and Tremayne Johnson were scheduled to be back in court this morning for a second trial on charges of setting a dog named Phoenix on fire two years ago. 

The first trial for the Baltimore brothers ended in a mistrial in February.

The dog was found on fire by a police officer, who used her sweater to put out the flames. Days later, Phoenix died while being treated in Pennsylvania.

The case led to an increased focus on animal abuse in Baltimore and the creation of an Anti-Animal Abuse Taskforce.

In the first trial, a single juror held out against a guilty verdict, resulting in a hung jury.

Twins to be tried again in dog burning

Prosecutors said today that Travers and Tremayne Johnson, the twin brothers accused of fatally setting fire to a pitbull in 2009, will be tried again.

The first trial ended Monday in a hung jury.

The new trial is scheduled for May 4, ABC2 in Baltimore reported. 

The announcement came after a series of meetings held by the prosecutor’s office this week.

The dog, named Phoenix, was doused with accelerant and set on fire in the summer of 2009 — an act that would make headlines across the country, lead to the formation of a citywide animal abuse task force and provoke outrage from animal welfare advocates.

The five-day trial came to a close Monday after the jurors deliberated for more than 20 hours over three days, but couldn’t agree on a verdict. One juror wasn’t convinced of the brothers’ guilt in the attack, according to news reports.

New trial in Phoenix case? Prosecutors, citing gag order, say they are considering it

Will Baltimore twins Travers and Tremayne Johnson be retried on animal cruelty charges in connecton with the setting a pit bull on fire?

A May 4 date has been set aside at the courthouse, but prosecutors, citing a gag order issued by the judge, aren’t saying much more than that.

The trial of the twins charged with setting fire to the dog, who became known as Phoenix, ended in a mistrial Monday.

Deputy State’s Attorney Elizabeth Embry, at a meeting with animal advocates Wednesday, said prosecutors are holding a series of meetings to determine whether to retry the case.

According to the Baltimore Sun, she said the office expects to announce a decision soon.

Jurors deliberated for more than 20 hours over three days, but one juror wasn’t convinced of the brothers’ guilty, making a verdict impossible.

“We want to be very deliberative and are having a series of meetings to discuss the case,” Embry, said at the meeting, noting the gag order. “As soon as the decision is made, which will be shortly … we’ll be making an announcement.”