Discovery of the dog saves Oregon man from the sex crime conviction

Black Lab called Lucy at McMenamins Gearhart Golf Links in Gearhart, Ore. The discovery of Lucy led to the unravelling of a criminal case

(Lisa Christon via AP)

An Oregon man sentenced to 50 years in prison for sexual abuse, had his conviction overturned by a dog.

A judge dismissed Joshua Horner’s case Monday, more than a month after he ran from Deschutes County Jail, when an Oregon Court of Appeals reversed his conviction and ordered a new trial as a black Labrador named Lucy was found alive — Horner’s accuser had claimed he shot the dog dead.

Horner will no longer have to stand trial for a second time.

Horner, a plumber from Redmond, was accused of sexual abuse costs in 2014. The case went to trial in March 2017, which the complainant said Horner shot her dog and threatened to shoot more of her pets when she went to the police about the alleged assault.

Josh Horner and his wife Kelli Horner after his release from the Deschutes County Jail in Bend, Ore.


Horner insisted that he never shot with the dog.

Six months later, a jury convicted Horner, but the ruling was not unanimous.

Oregon Innocence Project, I took over the case and raised concerns about the conviction of Deschutes County District Attorney John Hummel, who then agreed to work with the group. A group of volunteers and an official of His office began to look for the black Labrador to see if she was alive or dead.

They initially had difficulty locating the owner of the dog.

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

Eventually they found the dog in Gearhart, a town northwest of Portland.

“She was drinking a bowl of water and sit in the shade under a veranda. We played with her. Petting her. It was beautiful,” Oregon Innocence Project volunteer Lisa Christon said, adding that Lucy had distinctive characteristics indicated that the dog mentioned in the case.

“She is an extraordinary-looking black Lab; not a purebred. She has this lovely shape of the head and very long ears,” Christon said.

A 50-year sentence in a sex-abuse case against Horner was Monday dismissed by the Deschutes County District Attorney John Hummel after the Oregon Innocence Project found holes in 2017 the conviction that undermined the credibility of the complainant, including that Horner had shot the dog in front of her.


The dog existence showed the complainant was lying in her testimony is evidence enough for Hummel to request the case be dismissed. The woman also not to show up to a meeting in August to its declaration.

“Lucy, the dog was not shot. Lucy, the dog is alive and well,” Hummel’s office said in a statement.

“I can’t say with certainty that Mr. Horner does not sexually abuse the name of a victim, I can say I am not convinced by a preponderance of the evidence that he did, and I’m certainly not convinced beyond a reasonable doubt,” Hummel said Monday.

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,” Horner said, referring to his wife.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Katherine Lam is a breaking and trending news digital producer for Fox News. Follow her on Twitter via @bykatherinelam

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