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Anchorage judge sets bond for 17-year-old charged in cyclist death

Tegan Hanlon
Madisen Holder-Dusenbury cries in an Anchorage courtroom Friday, August 8, 2014 during an arraignment for 17-year-old Alexandra Ellis. Ellis has been charged with manslaughter for a July 19 hit-and-run accident where Holder-Dusenbury’s father, Jeffery Dusenbury, was killed. Loren Holmes / Alaska Dispatch News

Dozens of friends and family of Jeff Dusenbury, an Anchorage cyclist killed in a hit-and-run crash, filled a room in the Nesbett Courthouse Friday but the 17-year-old girl charged with manslaughter didn’t show -- at least, not in person.

Alexandra Ellis’ attorney, William Ingaldson, said his client is checked in to the mental health unit at Providence Alaska Medical Center. Once released, Ellis will move to a 24-hour residential treatment facility until her trial begins in November, Ingaldson said to Superior Court Judge William Morse at Friday’s brief arraignment.

Ellis is being tried as an adult in the death of 51-year-old Dusenbury. Prosecutors say Ellis and Dusenbury were both traveling down a quiet residential street in South Anchorage on the morning of July 19. Ellis drove a Chevrolet pickup and Dusenbury rode a bicycle. Police say Ellis realized she had gone the wrong way, reversed, hit Dusenbury and drove off.

Police found Ellis' pickup a few blocks from the crash site. She faces charges of manslaughter, driving under the influence and failing to assist an injured person after an accident.

Morse set a $50,000 cash performance bond for Ellis on Friday. She will have to post 10 percent of that. Ellis listened in on the arraignment over the telephone, only answering a quiet “yes” when asked if she could hear the judge.

Ellis' parents stood by the courtroom’s doors during the arraignment and quickly exited after the bond was set. 

“We have no comment other than to say that our hearts, our prayers and our thoughts are with the Dusenbury family,” said her father, Maurice Ellis. 

Pete Mcglashan, a co-worker of Dusenbury’s at Food Services America, said it has been tough  in the office since his friend’s death. He described Dusenbury as hardworking and outgoing. Dusenbury was a husband, father and well-known in the Anchorage cycling community.​ 

“I thought he’d be riding a bike into his 80s,” Mcglashan said.

Attorney Ingaldson said after the hearing that the victim’s and defendant’s families have been communicating through counsel to work toward a speedy trial. About the Ellis and Dusenbury families, he said, “Their hearts are broken.”