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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of South Dakota

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals Affirms Conviction and 30 Year Sentence for Assault and Domestic Assault by a Habitual Offender

United States Attorney Randolph J. Seiler announces that the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals has affirmed the district court in appeal no. 16-3483, United States of America, appellee, v. Denny Johnson, Sr., appellant.

Johnson lived in Kenel, South Dakota, on the Standing Rock Indian Reservation. He sexually assaulted and restrained his victim over the course of several weeks in December 2013 and January 2014.

Following a trial, a jury found Johnson guilty of two counts of aggravated sexual abuse, one count of assault with a dangerous weapon, one count of simple assault, and one count of domestic assault by a habitual offender. He was sentenced to 30 years of imprisonment, followed by five years of supervised release.

On appeal, Johnson argued that the district court should have excluded various pieces of evidence and should have allowed evidence about the victim’s past actions. He also argued about the sentencing court’s inclusion of certain sentencing enhancement based on his victim’s vulnerability and his obstruction of justice. The Eighth Circuit affirmed the district court in all respects. In particular, the Court discussed at length the value and credibility of the expert testimony provided by the executive director of the South Dakota Network Against Family Violence and Sexual Assault.

U.S. Attorney Seiler reflected on the decision, “It’s another great example of the fine work being done by our office and our partners to bring justice to domestic abusers.”

Assistant U.S. Attorney Troy Morley prosecuted the case at trial and handled the appeal for the government. The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

Indian Country Law and Justice
Updated July 2, 2017