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A man from Texas freed after outliving 99-year prison sentence for horse theft

A historic event unfolded this morning as a 117-year-old man hailing from Texas was finally released from prison, having outlived his 99-year sentence. This extraordinary occurrence marks the first instance in the history of the United States where a prisoner has served such a lengthy term.

Henry William Borne, the grandson of one of America’s most notorious horse thieves, was apprehended by the Texas Rangers in 1919 for his involvement in a significant horse-stealing operation. Borne, along with his father and seven accomplices, faced allegations of pilfering over 7,000 horses and mules, including a substantial lot of 1,735 horses intended for the American military’s efforts during the First World War.

While the other eight individuals received death sentences and were subsequently executed in 1920, Borne, who was underage during the commission of the crimes, was handed a staggering 99-year prison term. Against all odds, the native of Amarillo managed to survive his extensive sentence, enduring stays in eleven different correctional facilities.

Today, in a heartfelt moment, Mr. Borne was released from Sugar Land’s Central Unit Prison, after spending nearly an entire century incarcerated. Overwhelmed with emotion, he expressed his concerns about adapting to life in the 21st century, recounting his limited encounters with automobiles during childhood visits to Dallas. Despite keeping up with the advancements through television, he acknowledged the need to acclimate himself to the modern world, stating, “I’ll have to get used to it.”

Alongside the challenges of adjusting to a drastically transformed society, the 117-year-old man also harbors apprehensions about leaving behind a life of crime. He remarked, “All I’ve ever been outside prison is a horse thief. That’s the only thing I was good at. I bet I’d still be better than most of today’s horse thieves, even at my age.”

However, the Texas Department of Criminal Justice deems the risk of Borne resuming a criminal path as “very low.” The incidence of horse theft has consistently declined over the past century, aided by the utilization of identification microchips, which have made such crimes significantly easier to solve.

While punishments for horse theft can still be severe, exemplified by a woman in Arkansas who received a 60-year prison sentence for the theft of five horses in 2011, the prevailing trend indicates a diminished occurrence of these offenses.

Moriah Ballard
Moriah Ballard
Moriah Ballard joined the KPRC 2 digital team in the fall of 2021. Prior to becoming a digital content producer in Southeast Texas and a Houstonian, Moriah was an award-winning radio host in her hometown of Lorain, Ohio and previously worked as a producer/content creator in Cleveland. Her faith, family, and community are her top passions.


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