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Sex offender's conviction sent back to Scott County court

4-11-2014 Iowa:

The Iowa Supreme Court on Friday ordered more proceedings for a Davenport sex offender who was convicted of violating restrictions on where he could be.

Darrell Allen Showens, 51, was arrested May 11, 2012, after sitting on a bench facing the front door of the downtown Davenport Public Library.

The bench was 72 feet from the entrance, and Showens admitted he sat there about 45 minutes in the middle of the day.

Scott County Sheriff's Detective Peter Bawden, who recognized Showens as a registered sex offender, first observed him sitting on the bench for about 10 minutes before asking him what he was doing.

After giving a few different stories, Showens ultimately said he was waiting for the bus. Bawden pointed out the bench was not at a bus stop.

At the end of the conversation, Bawden arrested Showens. As a registered sex offender, he is not allowed to loiter within 300 feet of a public library, or the length of a football field.

Showens was charged with failure to comply with the sex offender exclusion zone requirements. At his trial in September 2012, he claimed his actions did not constitute "loitering."

Showens was found guilty. According to a written ruling, a reasonable person would believe Showens sat in front of the library "in order to become familiar with a location where a potential victim could be found, or to locate a potential victim."

He was sentenced to 240 days in jail, with all but three days suspended. He also was ordered to pay a fine of $625 and serve 213 hours of community service

Showens appealed. The Iowa Supreme Court ruled Friday that "we are uncertain whether the district court applied the correct legal standard" in finding him guilty, and it reversed the conviction. The decision, written by Justice Edward Mansfield, said the district court must determine that Showens was on the bench for the purpose of scouting for potential victims in order to be convicted.

"Some of the evidence here could potentially be viewed as supporting Showens’s innocence," the ruling stated. "He was eating a bag of chips while sitting on the bench. The record does not indicate how large a bag it was. Showens was found outside the public library around 1:30 p.m. on a school day — not the time when large numbers of school-age children would normally be present.

Showens’s refusal to get up and leave when Deputy Bawden arrived could possibly be viewed as a sign of orneriness, rather than deviance. Perhaps, as the defendant claimed at times, he was 'just hanging out.'" ..Source.. by Brian Wellner

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