USA: A man and his wife walked out of court, with him a free man thanks the Oregon Innocence Project and Lucy, a dog. Holding hands, and smiling for the camera, the couple declined to discuss the case that saw him jailed for alleged sexual assault of a minor in Redmond, on April 12, 2017. One News Now (TVNZ) wrote that Joshua Horner was convicted to a 50-year jail sentence but now all charged have been dropped.

Sexual assault charge dropped, man free after the dog, Lucy, found

According to US News, an organization called the Oregon Innocence Project helped to secure Horner's release from prison.

All they had to do was find a dog and it turned out to be a lot more difficult than expected. The reason why they focussed on the dog was that the complainant specifically mentioned it during the trial. (Note the complainant cannot be named as she was a minor). What she had to say about the dog is what helped to get sexual assault charges dropped.

During the trial, the complainant claimed that he'd told her if she told anyone about the alleged sexual assault, that he would kill her animals. In fact, she alleged that he took out a gun and shot her dog to prove his point.

The defendant denied he ever shot or threatened to kill a dog. Despite not being part of the original investigated evidence, the dog death allegation was accepted in the court.

County District Attorney office works with Oregon Innocence Project

When Horner's case was presented to the Oregon Innocence Project, they went to see John Hummel, a County District Attorney.

He agreed to assist with their inquiries and assigned an assistant. They noted that if the dog was still alive, it could be proven the claimant lied under oath. They thought the dog had been given away. Deschutes County searches for the dog at an alleged address of a new owner yielded nothing. However, they later discovered he had a second property on the coast of Oregon.

Arriving in the town of Gearhart, they found the dog named Lucy was indeed, still alive. Using the living dog as evidence the complaint had not told the truth in the trail, they appealed the conviction. As the District Attorney said, while it did not prove the man had not sexually assaulted the complainant, it also raised questions as to whether he did or not. After all, if she lied about one thing, why not another? Leaving space for reasonable doubt to creep in, the case was heard and the conviction dismissed.