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Trial begins for woman accused of beating woman with hammer, sexual assault

Rebecca Dakota Grant

Jury selection began Tuesday in the trial of a Grand Forks woman accused of beating another woman with a claw hammer and sexually assaulting her.

Rebecca Dakota Grant, 31, would face a minimum of 20 years behind bars if convicted of the felony sex charge. The maximum penalty is life in prison.

She is facing charges of gross sexual imposition, terrorizing, attempted murder and aggravated assault. Additional misdemeanor charges were filed last month alleging she assaulted an inmate at the Grand Forks County Correctional Center while awaiting trial on the felony charges.

Grant was arrested in May after the felony charges were filed.

Court documents allege she hit a woman she knew in the face, threw her to the ground and ripped off her pants in the kitchen of the woman's apartment just before 1 p.m. May 22.

An affidavit said Grant then sexually assaulted and sodomized her as the woman begged for Grant to stop. Grant allegedly threatened to kill the woman and repeatedly hit her with a claw hammer on the back, stomach and left side of her eye socket, court documents said.

The woman lost consciousness after Grant strangled her, court records state. Police said the woman had several cuts and blood on her hands and face when officers arrived. Court documents said she had a restraining order against Grant.

Grant is scheduled to enter a plea Dec. 26 on the misdemeanor assault charge alleging she fought with another inmate about 8 p.m. Oct. 21, just before a church function.

Grant allegedly stood up and walked toward the woman as she entered the correctional center's ITV room. Other female inmates, including a church leader, tried to hold Grant back and stepped between them, court documents said. Police said surveillance video shows Grant throwing multiple punches at the other inmate, who retreated across the room.

Grant broke free and court documents said she and the woman fought on the ground before correctional officers were able to separate them. The other woman allegedly was bruised and had scratches that broke skin from the fight.

On Tuesday, Grant looked at the crowd of almost 70 potential jurors as attorneys questioned the group to narrow the selection to a 12-person jury.

Her attorney, Public Defender Samuel Gereszek, warned the group "there are no wrong answers," and the sometimes personal questioning was meant to determine what biases they held. He listed the charges Grant is facing and asked potential jurors if they could be partial knowing the case may involve rape and assault.

"These are tough subjects, these are hard subjects, and this will involve people getting on the stands and testifying, sometimes pretty graphically," he said.