Trial to begin in sexual abuse case

Jury selected in the trial of defendant Joseph Randy Dennis

A trial is slated to begin Wednesday for a man accused of sexually abusing a minor.

Joseph Randy Dennis, 27, is standing trial in Juneau Superior Court on two felony counts of first-degree sexual abuse of a minor.

Prosecutors say Dennis abused an 8-year-old girl, now 9 years old, whom he knew, on New Year’s Eve.

Police said in an earlier release that the mother of the alleged victim reported the instance to the Juneau Police Department on New Year’s Day.

Judge Philip Pallenberg is presiding over the trial, and Assistant District Attorney Angie Kemp is prosecuting the case for the state of Alaska. Dennis is represented by public defender Eric Hedland.

Fourteen people were selected as prospective jurors on Tuesday. Seven are women and seven are men. Two of the jurors will later be chosen as alternates, leaving 12 to decide the case.

First-degree sexual abuse of a minor is an unclassified felony that can carry up to 99 years in prison, which means Dennis could be facing life in prison, if convicted.

Opening statements are scheduled to take place 8:30 a.m. on Wednesday. Attorneys say they anticipate the trial will continue into next week.

The judge said he is hopeful the case can go to the jurors before the Thanksgiving holiday. If not, the jury will continue deliberations the Friday after Thanksgiving.

• Contact reporter Emily Russo Miller at 523-2263 or at emily.miller@juneauempire.com.

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