Labrador saves US man from wrongful sex abuse conviction | News | DW | 11.09.2018
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Labrador saves US man from wrongful sex abuse conviction

The discovery of a missing dog has led to the unraveling of a case against a US man jailed for 50 years for molesting his daughter. The animal had played a key role in the daughter's trial testimony against the accused.

A plumber from the US state of Oregon serving a 50-year prison sentence was exonerated after the discovery of a labrador led to the unraveling of a criminal case against him.

Joshua Horner was convicted on April 12, 2017, for molesting his daughter, who testified that the 42-year-old had shot dead her dog to frighten her into silence.

The plaintiff told the jury that Horner had threatened to shoot her animals if she went to the police about the alleged molestation.

Horner insisted he never shot the dog and that his daughter had lied under oath. He sought help from Oregon Innocence Project, a non-profit legal organization, which agreed to take up his case.

The Oregon Innocence Project found the dog alive and living with new owners.

"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.

The dog was identified by an undisputed chain of custody and her looks.

"She's a very distinctive-looking black lab; not purebred. She's got this adorable shaped head and really long ears," Christon said.

Read more: Lost dog rescued after spending 11 days in German Alps

Case dismissed

The key evidence showed the complainant had not been truthful when testifying, District Attorney John Hummel said.

"While I cannot say with certainty that Mr Horner did not sexually abuse the named victim, I can say I am not convinced by a preponderance of the evidence that is now available that he did, and I am certainly not convinced beyond a reasonable doubt," Hummel said in a statement on Monday.

Horner had walked out of prison in August after an appeals court had overturned his conviction and ordered a new trial on grounds his defense had not been allowed to introduce certain evidence that was unrelated to the dog. He no longer faces that second trial.

"Kelli and I are ready to pick up the pieces of our lives," Horner said on Monday, referring to his wife, as the couple emerged from the courthouse following the judge's decision to dismiss the case.

ap/rt (AP, AFP)

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