A judge has dismissed the sexual assault charge against an ex-Las Vegas police explorer whose conviction was reversed last year.
Joshua Honea, 28, would have faced a retrial Monday, but District Judge Kathleen Delaney dismissed the case last week with prejudice, meaning it can’t be brought back to court.
“Joshua Honea has finally gotten his life back. He has been in legal limbo,” his attorney, Jonathan MacArthur, said in a text message Monday. “It’s great when the criminal justice system works the way that it’s supposed to.”
At his trial in December 2017, Honea faced 52 counts, including first-degree kidnapping and use of a minor in the production of pornography. He was convicted of one count of sexual assault and sentenced to at least 25 years.
“I honestly feel like my due process was violated,” he told Delaney at the time. “My fight is not over.”
Honea’s attorneys appealed his 2018 conviction and prison sentence, arguing in part that jurors were misinformed about legal consent. They also alleged that two jurors had engaged in misconduct.
The Nevada Supreme Court reversed the conviction last year, saying in a decision that Delaney’s instructions were given in error.
Chief Deputy District Attorney Stacey Kollins said the decision not to move forward with prosecution in the retrial came down to the accuser in the case.
The girl initially testified at a preliminary hearing that she and Honea had a yearslong sexual relationship, starting when she was 11. But she recanted her story at trial, when she was 18, saying the two were only friends.
“There are some things that are out of the district attorney’s control and a recanting victim is one of them,” Kollins said. “While I would have chosen a different conclusion, this is the one that we got given the evidence as it came out.”
Throughout the trial, Kollins showed jurors pictures that depicted Honea and the girl kissing and a photo album that chronicled the relationship.
Before his arrest, Honea was in a police Explorer Program that encourages a career in law enforcement and teaches young Las Vegas residents the basics of policing. He also volunteered with the Metropolitan Police Department’s Enterprise area command.
MacArthur said Honea was targeted as a whistleblower by the department, which then investigated rumors that Honea had an inappropriate relationship with the girl.
He spent about two years in jail while awaiting trial but has remained out of custody since his appeal.
“He is employed in a new career,” MacArthur said, “and is glad that he can begin making long-term plans without the anxiety of wondering whether he’d eventually be incarcerated for a crime that he didn’t commit.”