US man wanted over Florida murder came here for love, court told
An American man wanted over a drugs-related murder in Florida came to Northern Ireland because he fell in love, a court heard yesterday.
Counsel for Jonah Horne (22) disputed suggestions that he fled following the fatal shooting last summer.
Sean Doherty said: "He has arrived in this jurisdiction not as a fugitive, but because he fell in love with a girl from here.
"She is pregnant with their child. He met her when she was working in the United States."
US authorities are seeking Horne's extradition for his alleged role in the murder of Jacob Walsh on June 7 last year.
The 25-year-old victim was shot outside apartments at North Military Trail, Boca Raton. Horne was detained under a provisional warrant at a house on Drumard Drive in Lisburn, Co Antrim, on March 13.
As he applied for bail at Laganside Courts in Belfast, it was claimed that DNA, video and witness evidence connected him to the killing.
Stephen Ritchie, representing the US authorities, said: "The application for bail is resisted not only because of the seriousness of the offence, but also because this man is a fugitive.
"There's a strong presumption that he came to Northern Ireland to evade arrest in Florida."
However, Mr Doherty claimed US police never informed his client they wanted to speak to him about the killing.
Horne spent several weeks in Northern Ireland last summer and returned in October to be with his partner, the court heard.
According to his lawyers he is a university graduate who volunteered for a Christian Fellowship organisation, working with people with special needs.
During proceedings it was disclosed that the wanted man's mother is prepared to put up a £5,000 cash surety to secure his release from custody, and his girlfriend is said to be willing to sign bail for him.
Mr Doherty emphasised the need for assurances Horne would not face the death penalty if returned to the US.
Judge Smyth ruled that she was not prepared to grant bail at this stage.
However, she left the door open for a renewed application once clarification is provided on Horne's alleged fugitive status.