SIOUX CITY, Iowa (KCAU) — A Sioux City man had his conviction vacated on Sunday due to a lack of evidence that did more than invite suspicion and speculation.

According to court documents, a judge granted a motion for a new trial and motion of arrest in judgment made by the attorney of Danny Beard, of Sioux City, after a jury found Beard guilty in August. Beard’s lawyer argued that the prosecution had not met its burden of proof in the case against him

“The evidence in this case does little more than raise suspicion, speculation, and conjecture that the Defendant reasonably believed (the alleged victim) was under sixteen at the time of the incident,” wrote Judge Jeffery Neary.

According to court documents filed at the time, police said Beard had approached the victim and offered her $500. She then went to the apartment and Beard allegedly later came up behind her and allegedly offered her $600 if she came to his apartment.

Iowa law allows judges to grant an acquittal without the jury reaching a verdict if there is so little evidence in the case that the judge feels a conviction could not be reached. Judges also may decide to wait to rule on the verdict until after the jury returns a verdict.

The motion had initially been made at the close of the prosecution’s case and again at the close of the defensive case. Such motions are commonplace but at the time the court said that it would rule on the motion at a later date. Neary said he first had to rule on this motion, which was granted, before ruling on the motion for a new trial, which had also been filed in the case.

In court, the prosecution had argued that Beard knew the girl was under the age of 16. However, Neary disagreed. He said that while the evidence might invite speculation that Beard knew the girl was under the age of 16, it did not prove it. The girl did not know Beard’s name and while she did sometimes visit someone at Beard’s apartment complex and left that complex to take the bus to school, she took a city bus. This is in contrast to two other children who lived in the apartment the girl visited who did take the school bus.

“No evidence was presented that would provide insight into whether or how the defendant was able to reasonably determine the age of (the alleged victim) at the time of the incident,” Neary wrote.

The judge said that on video the victim appeared to be a young woman who was mature in her actions, size, physical attributes, and expressions. The judge also said that he would have estimated the victim was between 16 and 18 on the video submitted in court. She also had an older sister who lived at the complex and the two looked similar, the court filing stated.

As part of the verdict being vacated, the court found Beard not guilty as he was tried in trial. In addition to vacating the verdict, Neary also ruled that Beard did not have a reasonable ability to pay his court-appointed attorney fees. All court costs will also be charged to the state.