The discovery of a black Lab named Lucy led to the unravelling of a criminal case Monday against an Oregon man who had begun serving a 50-year prison sentence. Joshua Horner, a plumber from the central Oregon town of Redmond, was convicted on April 12, 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 her, to make his point. Six months after a jury convicted Horner in a verdict that was not unanimous, he asked the Oregon Innocence Project for help. The group took up his case, and Deschutes County District Attorney John Hummel agreed to work with them, the AP reports.
Horner had insisted he never shot the dog. Finding the dog would show the complainant had lied under oath. But if she was alive, where was she? An Innocence Project volunteer and an official from Hummel's office searched for the distinctive-looking black Lab, who had reportedly been given away by Horner's then-girlfriend, and finally found Lucy in the town of Gearhart. Hummel told a court Monday he's now not convinced Horner is guilty, and the case was dismissed. Horner had walked out of a state prison in Pendleton on Aug. 3 after the Oregon Court of Appeals reversed his conviction and ordered a new trial because the defense had not been allowed to present certain evidence that was unrelated to the dog. Now, Horner no longer faces that second trial.