New Trial Ordered Over Sex Offender's Confinement


By Liz Blood

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — The Iowa Supreme Court has ordered a new trial to determine whether a sex offender should remain locked up for treatment after his prison term expires.

The court ruled Friday that prosecutors improperly told jurors that a careful state review process determined Jonathan Stenzel met the criteria for a sexually violent predator. Justices say those statements may have unfairly persuaded jurors to keep him locked up.

Prosecutors are trying to keep Stenzel civilly committed, arguing he's at high risk to reoffend if released.

Stenzel was convicted of sexually abusing a store clerk at knifepoint in 1986, as well as arson and burglary. He says he's gotten treatment, no longer presents a risk to women and should be released from prison. But a jury sided with prosecutors at a 2011 trial.
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