BALDWIN COUNTY, Ala. (WALA) - A convicted sex offender authorities have been looking for since he cut off his ankle monitor right before he was sentenced on child porn charges has been located.
John David Smith was arrested recently in Poteau, Oklahoma. He has been on the run since Friday, March 22.
The Baldwin County District Attorney's Office believes Smith had been staying at various state parks prior to his capture.
They said Smith had approached a park ranger, telling him he was having car trouble and asking for help. They said he gave the park ranger false information, and he became suspicious.
After further investigation, they figured out Smith's identity. He will be extradited from Oklahoma and face sentencing for the child porn charges.
"We're very happy he's back, very happy, or will be back soon," Baldwin County District Attorney Hallie Dixon said.
The DA's office said Smith also faces burglary charges in Georgia for burglarizing a hunting camp. They said he also could face charges in that case.
The state's sex offender registry shows Smith had a previous conviction for having sexual contact with 14-year-old girl.
Authorities determined during their search for Smith that he did not use a motorized wheelchair, as previously believed.
"I think the general public does believe he's confined to a wheelchair, and we've determined that's not true. He's walking on his feet just like you and I," Trent Wilhelm of the district attorney's office said. "He may be disabled to some degree, but he's walking, he's obviously coherent enough to drive a car, clean his windshield, and talk like we are."
In May, Dixon made a motion to sentence Smith without him being present .
"We had hoped, of course, that we'd be able to get Mr. Smith back in our custody within a month," Dixon said. "That didn't happen, and so we have elected to go ahead and ask the court to sentence him in absentia, meaning without him being present."
Dixon also had a property bond of Smith's mother's home, and had hoped to lure him home by foreclosing on the property.
FOX10 News wanted to know if this incident would influence any decisions on future cases, determining bond and monitoring requirements for violent convicts.
"Sometimes it takes the worst case scenario, I think for the system to learn," Dixon said. "But I hope that it will be better understood, our concern over flight, that electronic monitoring - even real time - doesn't solve all risk of flight. I hope that it will make the worst case scenario more real to those who get to decide, our judges and such."
Dixon said should a criminal such as Smith get out on bond, she will now consider surveillance.
"Even real-time monitoring can't replace men on the street, bodies right there observing," Dixon said.
This is a case Dixon said has weighed on her years. Smith will now face a judge, and his victim.
"I just can't even really articulate the sense of peace, almost that it gives you, because she's so courageous and she's so strong, despite everything she has been through," Dixon said. "Life has been hard on her, and it's really good to be able to say something worked right."
Dixon said Smith's penalty will be consistent with the habitual offender laws. She wants him to face life in prison without the possibility of parole.
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