The FedEx driver accused of brutally murdering a 7-year-old Texas girl was hit with new charges this week for allegedly sexually assaulting a minor.
Prosecutors charged Tanner Horner, 31, earlier this month for allegedly murdering Athena Strand. He’s now been charged with three counts of sexual assault on a child in a separate case, FOX 7 reported. The new charges stem from an alleged incident in 2013.
Horner allegedly admitted to law enforcement officials that he hit Athena Strand with the delivery truck immediately after he dropped off her Christmas gift, a set of Barbie dolls called the “you can be anything” collection.
Law enforcement officials recovered video footage from inside the truck that showed him taking the girl into the van.
When investigators located Horner, he admitted to them that “he had taken Athena” and that she was dead.
“[Horner] stated when he was backing up in his Fed Ex truck he accidentally hit Athena with the truck, but she was not seriously injured, panicked and put her in the van,” court documents said. “[Horner] stated Athena was alive at that time, talking to him, and told him her name was Athena. [Horner] stated he attempted to break Athena’s neck to kill her. [Horner] stated, when he attempted to break Athena’s neck it did not work so he strangled with his bare hands in the back of the Fed Ex van.”
Athena’s mother, Maitlyn Gandy, said at a press conference, “Athena was robbed of the opportunity to grow up to be anything she wanted to be.”
“And this present ordered out of innocence and love is one she will never receive,” she said. “Athena’s favorite holiday was Christmas as it is for many children everywhere. The joy Athena gave her family, and the joy she felt on Christmas is something we will never feel with here again.”
Wise County Sheriff Lane Akin said that his office is pursuing the death penalty for Horner because “of the serious nature of the case” and Athena’s age.
“There may be some hurdles we may or may not be able to cross – I’ll leave that to the district attorney,” he said.
Horner’s social media accounts were reportedly filled with photos of him holding a baby, according to Heavy.com, a fact-finding website.
On Facebook, he allegedly wrote, “love is stupid and not to mention completely asinine.”
He was previously accused of being “a rapist,” the site said, according to a woman who claims that she spoke with investigators.