Former bar operator appealing child sex assault conviction

Davis was sentenced to more than 20 years in prison

A former Shawano bar operator sentenced last year to more than 20 years in prison for child sexual assault had a motion hearing in Shawano County Circuit Court on Thursday in his bid to gain a new trial.

Darwin R. Davis, 50, was found guilty after a weeklong jury trial of having sexual intercourse with a 15-year-old girl in the basement of a Shawano tavern he once operated and on multiple occasions at his home in 2012.

He was sentenced in April 2016 to 20 years on those counts and an additional 1 1/2 years on two counts of contributing to the delinquency of a child for trying to get his two children, who were 13 and 11 at the time, to lie to authorities about his relationship with the girl.

Davis was also sentenced on a number of other counts, including felony counts of possession of marijuana and bail jumping, and misdemeanor counts of possessing drug paraphernalia and resisting or obstructing an officer. Those sentences were imposed concurrently with the others.

He was also ordered to serve 10 years of extended supervision after his prison sentence.

Davis is maintaining he had ineffective counsel in the case.

No decision was reached at Thursday’s hearing. The state and defense will file briefs for the court to review in the coming weeks.

Davis’ trial garnered particular attention because of Davis’ connection to a Shawano woman who went missing in 2013.

Heather Szekeres, 32, disappeared in June 2013 after last being seen at the Final Lap Tavern, the bar Davis operated. Remains found nearly a year later outside the city were finally identified in April 2015.

The case remains under investigation by the state Division of Criminal Investigations.

One of the arguments Davis is making for lack of effective counsel was his attorney’s failure to challenge Assistant District Attorney Catharine White when she suggested during cross-examination that Davis had been the last person to see Szekeres alive.

Davis denied that, but maintains it prejudiced the jury against him.

He is serving his time at the Waupun Correctional Institute.

Davis was previously convicted of second-degree sexual assault of a child in Langlade County in 1994 and was sentenced to five years in prison.