A Jasper County judge on Wednesday ordered a homeless man to stand trial on a charge that he failed to register as a sex offender while living on the streets in Joplin.

Associate Judge Joe Hensley ordered Roy J. Aikens, 57, to stand trial on the charge at the conclusion of a preliminary hearing in Jasper County Circuit Court. The judge set July 22 for the defendant's initial appearance in a trial division of the court.

Officer Seth Dear of the Joplin Police Department testified at the hearing that he came into contact with Aikens on April 27 while responding to an incident at the Walmart store on West Seventh Street. He said that during that contact he received information from police dispatch that Aikens had been convicted of a sex offense in another state, and Aikens acknowledged as much to Dear when he asked him about it.

Dear testified that he released Aikens at the scene because he had no reason to believe at that time that he was in violation of Missouri's sex offender registration law, which allows an offender to spend up to seven days in the state before being required to register. He said he later learned that Aikens had been taken to a hospital here on April 19 and realized that meant Aikens was not in compliance with the law and should have been arrested.

Dear located and arrested Aikens in the early morning hours the following day.

Detective Roy Masters of the Jasper County Sheriff's Department testified that the defendant never registered with the sheriff's office and has never had an address in Missouri to his knowledge. He said even the homeless are required by the law to register with the sheriff's office in the county where they are staying if they are a convicted sex offender.

Jeff Lehr is a reporter for The Joplin Globe.