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Justice For Justin

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 The story of the young Stonewall boy lured to his death by a cab driver has caused a ripple effect in the justice system.  Before Brian Horn even went to trial for killing 12-year-old Justin Bloxom. Justin's mom fought to get the "Bloxom bill" passed

  It's already passed in the bayou state, Oklahoma and Texas.  It bans convicted sex offenders from driving taxis, limousines, and buses. 

The trial of twice-convicted sex offender Brian Horn makes it clear why the Bloxom bill is needed not just in Louisiana but in other states too.

The trial started on Friday March 28th and the first person to take the witness stand for the prosecution  was Amy. She bared her soul with her son's killer sitting across the room as she told the emotional story of her life with Justin, complete with family photos. You could have titled it the "Justin Years."  She also reminisced about the last words Justin said to her when she dropped him off at his friend's house to spend the night. The words he said were, "I love you."  She cried when she said those words on the witness stand.  Amy cried.  Members of the jury and people in the courtroom cried with her.  Justin's grandfather John Witham also gave an emotional testimony in court. 

During opening arguments chief criminal prosecutor Ron Stamps pointed at horn and called him a nightmare, the worst kind, because he is not a dream, he is real. 

 An important piece of evidence that came out in the trial was a deputy's dash cam video. It showed Horn pulled off the road in his taxi cab on Highway 171 looking for his keys near where Justin's body was later found that day. 

 Prosecutors walked jurors through the explicit text messages that lured Justin into Horn's cab. Horn posed as a sexually active teen-age girl.  The texting happened sometime between 11 PM of March 29, 2010 and into the early morning hours of March 30.  It came out in court that one day Brian Horn asked his step-daughter's friend for her cell phone so he could download her ring tones.  He actually took her entire contact list and Justin happened to be on that list.

Prosecutors portrayed Horn as a monster in the making. Law enforcement officials also testified about has sex offender history.  Horn was 19 and his female victim was 13, he was convicted of indecent behavior with a juvenile. He got 3 years for that.

The second conviction happened in Missouri when he was in his 20s and the girl was 14. He hit and kicked her then forcibly raped her and admitted it to investigators. He was sentenced to 5 years for that. His wife Amanda testified that he would choke her during sex and she did not like it.  Horn's young 20 something girlfriend, Michelle Witt said the same thing. 

Then on April 1 forensic pathologist Dr. James Traylor said on the witness stand that he is the "voice of the victim," telling the jury that Justin was killed by someone who at first tried to strangle him, because there were marks around Justin's neck then suffocated Justin by covering his nose and mouth for at least 90 seconds. DeSoto Parish District Attorney Richard Johnson says Traylor's testimony proves Horn's specific intent to kill Justin.  In the state of Louisiana you have to prove specific intent to kill in order to convict someone one of 1st degree murder.  That day prosecutors also made sure the jury got a first hand look at the location where Horn killed Justin. The jury went on a field trip to that stretch of highway 171 were Justin's body was found.  The state rested on April 1st.

 As far as Brian Horn's defense goes attorney Jay Florence told the jury at the start of the trial that vengeance is not justice.  He also alluded to the fact that while Horn may have killed Justin he did not mean to do it and said that the state will not prove that Horn had specific intent in the killing 12 -year- old Justin. Nonetheless the day after the state rested the defense rested without calling one witness. 

 Closing arguments started and on April 2nd.  The jury went into deliberations and in about 45 minutes came out with a guilty verdict.  Brian Horn was found guilty of first degree murder. Justin's mom and  family held hands while the verdict was read and let out a collective sigh and tears of joy when they heard it.

Then came the sentencing phase again Amy Witham Fletcher took the stand giving her victim impact statement and again took the jury on an emotional ride down memory lane with her son.  She talked about a birthday card Justin made for her when he was 7.  "Happy B-day Mom" was on the cover."  He signed it, "Love Justin" and drew a picture of his mom. Almost everybody in that courtroom was reduced to tears when she talked about that card. The prosecution took one day to present its case and rested.

 The next day it was the defense's turn. Forty witnesses had been subpoenaed to try and save Horn's life. It would bring Justin's mom face to face with the mother of a the man who murdered her son.  Brian's mom, Debra Abshire cried on the stand as she apologized to Amy Fletcher then turned to the jury and asked them to spare her son's life. 

Apologies flowed from Brian Horn's family they took the stand.  Brian's brother also took the stand and was asked if Brian's life has worth.  After a pause he said yes and said he still loved him.

The sentencing phase ended on Saturday April 5.   It took an hour and a half for the jury to come out and sentence Horn to death. You could hear people say... "Finally justice for Justin!"

"I believe the law...the death penalty was perfectly designed for this kind of offender ," said Chief Criminal Prosecutor Ron Stamps.
















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