GUNTERSVILLE, Ala.- The jury trial of a Marshall County man accused of sex abuse of a child less than 12 began Wednesday.
The young victim took the stand in Daniel Herring’s hearing right after opening statements by the prosecution and defense.
The victim had a special guest to help comfort her during her testimony. Fitzgerald II, the “Canine Companions for Independence” dog, was brought in by the “Help Empower Restore and Overcome”, or HERO program and the Alabama District Attorney’s Association.
Fitzgerald II laid at her feet and she was able to pet and look at her throughout the questioning.
“Research has shown that dogs release oxytocin in our brains which help to slow down our breathing, our heart rate and to help relieve our anxiety. It also shows that just having a dog present and looking at them helps them to free up their brain to where you can think and process things and interact with people better,” explained facility dog handler Tonya Willingham. “In cases where the allegations are very serious and traumatic in nature, the dogs are there and help provide the court with the tools necessary for the witness or victim to be able to interact with not only the prosecution but also the defense that way the jury has all of the evidence in the case where they can make a fair and impartial ruling that way justice can be served.”
Herring’s trial will continue Thursday.
During a break of the trial, the defendant’s mother, Elizabeth, was arrested on charges of Tampering With a Witness and Interfering with Judicial Proceedings