We once discussed how cat hair helped authorities track down a mail bomber. As it turns out, man’s best friend can play a critical role in the justice system as well. In fact, one black lab recently saved a man from going to prison. It’s things like this that prove how important it can be to work with the right La Jolla Sex Crimes Lawyer from the beginning.
Joshua Horner’s daughter didn’t like the woman he moved in with years after he and her mother divorced. It wasn’t soon after that she told her mother that she had been sexually molested by her father. The daughter’s testimony was inconsistent and sometimes she could not remember important details of the events. This is common in sexual assault cases and the prosecution even presented expert witnesses to testify she had Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and that those with the condition often have unclear memories of events. One detail the girl testified to was the fact that her father vowed to shoot her dogs if she tried to refuse him and even shot one then and there to drive home his point.
Horner’s defense team was barred from presenting evidence that the girl did, in fact, suffer from PTSD, it was from sexual abuse committed by the girl’s half brother years earlier, not from anything her father did to her. The defense was also barred from asking the girl about her arrest for criminal mischief that occurred shortly after Horner was arrested and if she was hoping to get leniency in that case by helping them convict Horner. Finally, the defense was barred from presenting Horner’s new wife from testifying that he had not shot the dog, but given it away. Del Mar sex crimes attorneys argue that this evidence all should have been considered admissible and that the defense should have been given the chance to prove the dog was alive, which it was not.
Appeals and Exoneration
Horner’s lawyers appealed the case based on all of the things they were barred from presenting as evidence. The appeals court agreed, but did not exonerate him but only ordered a new trial. At the same time though, the Oregon Innocence Project had contacted the District Attorney behind the case asking for help to prove the man’s innocence by showing that the dog was still alive. While the pooch had since been rehomed again, she was located and there was not only a well-documented chain of custody of the dog, but she also had a distinctive look helping to guarantee it was the same animal.
When the DA’s investigators tried to talk to Horner’s daughter about her testimony after the dog was found, she skipped their meeting. She then refused to talk to them. As a result, the DA told the judge that he was no longer convinced of Horner’s guilt and in light of the evidence, Horner was exonerated and no longer had to go through a second trial.
Exploring Every Avenue
In some cases, appeals are won because prosecutors committed misconduct or the defense lawyer provided ineffective assistance. Sometimes, however, judges err in admitting or excluding evidence which then harms the defendant’s ability to get a fair trial and that’s the case in this situation.
You might be thinking, “well if he still lost then that seems like you can be convicted even if you have the right Mira Mesa sex crime defense lawyer on your side.” Well, it’s true that there are no guarantees in this life, but the fact that he won his appeal means that most courts would have and should have admitted this evidence. Even more importantly, Horner was convicted in Oregon, where you are not required to have a unanimous jury verdict -and the jury was not unanimous in this case.
That means that if this same trial were held with the same jury in California, even if the defense was barred from admitting all of that crucial evidence, Horner would have had a hung jury and either been immediately acquitted or given a second trial -including extra investigation time to find the dog. In other words, this is yet another example of the importance of hiring a top defense attorney handling sex crime cases in Carmel Valley.
If you are accused of a sex crime in Solana Beach, lawyer Peter M. Liss can help. Please call (760) 643-4050 or (858) 486-3024 at any time to schedule a free initial consultation.
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