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David Ray Horner, 34, courtesy of the Sarasota, Fla. Police Department. A man was careful to hide his face from the camera as he took pictures of pornographic images of him abusing a 1 year-old child.

But the smartphone camera caught enough detail to show the ridges of his fingertips – providing Sarasota County Sheriff’s investigators with a fingerprint that has led to a 26-count conviction of the alleged abuser last week.

Dannie Ray Horner, 34, now faces decades in prison on 26 counts, including capital sexual battery and possession and transmission of child pornography. And authorities said the smartphone pictures he snapped were what sealed the case against him.

“It’s kind of groundbreaking – but it’s actually really simple,” said Lt. Joe Giasone, of the Sheriff’s Criminal Investigation Section. “In one of the pictures, you could zoom in and get really good detail on his finger.”

Horner had become the focus of an international investigation after he was suspected of exchanging child porn with offenders overseas, Giasone said.

Courtesy of the Sarasota Fla., Sheriff's Office

The local police seized Horner’s electronic belongings, including his computer and his Samsung N900 Galaxy Note 3 phone.

That smartphone is what led to some of the best evidence against Horner, authorities said.

Three photos provided by the sheriff’s office show clearly the fingerprint, at different angles, and compared side-by-side with Horner’s fingerprints taken by investigators.

Another factor also helped to make them even more legible to analysts. Horner is a painter by trade, and apparently had not thoroughly washed his hands at the time the images were taken. Two shots in particular show a finger stained with black around the ridges, and another shows pale white relief against the pattern.

From those images, police used their standard fingerprinting technology – and came up with a clear match to Horner, authorities said.

The case against Horner was already built without the fingerprint, but the additional evidence thoroughly convinced a jury, the lieutenant said.

“It’s rare to get a fingerprint of a suspect in midst of committing a criminal act,” said Giasone.

The Samsung smartphone camera was standard technology. Cameras with higher resolution have started to show even more promise. In 2013, researchers at the University of London demonstrated they could reliably identify bystanders from faces reflected in peoples’ corneas, in the midst of large crowds

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