Shannon Brandt has reportedly pleaded guilty to manslaughter after running down 18-year-old Kayler Ellingson on September 18, 2022, according to a report from News Dakota. The report comes days after Foster County State’s Attorney Kara E Brinster, with the approval of Southeast Judicial District Judge Bradley Cruff, downgraded murder charges against Brandt to manslaughter.
On the night of the crime, Brandt, 42, reportedly got into a verbal altercation with the 18-year-old at a street dance. The teen called his mother when the man began to pursue him in his vehicle, telling her that he was concerned.
Brandt soon plowed into Ellingson with his 2003 Ford Explorer, knocking him to the ground. He then drove over the teen’s “torso and legs,” causing his death. Brandt then fled the seen of the crime before returning a short while later to call 911.
In the 911 call, Brandt claimed that the boy was affiliated with a “right-wing extremist group,” a claim that has been thoroughly debunked. “He was threatening me with something to have to do with — something with an extremist Republican group. And then he made a phone call. He made a phone call saying, ‘I thought he was Republican (background noise) or something. You’re going have to come here and handle him.’ I got scared to death. I didn’t know what to do,” Brandt said, according to a transcript of the call.
UPDATE: North Dakota DA gives plea deal to man who ran over conservative teen, Cayler Ellingson, allows him to plead to manslaughter charge https://t.co/xkhLLJhH8i
— Charlie Kirk (@charliekirk11) May 19, 2023
Brandt’s attorney praised the decision, saying that the murder charges were never warranted and were a result of media hype. “The state and defense forensic experts have provided comprehensive reports confirming this tragedy was an accident. Misplaced media hype and community conjecture is no substitute for evidence,” Mark Friese, an attorney for Brandt, said in a statement.
Prosecutors dropped charges for fleeing the scene in exchange for a guilty plea. Brinster noted that a pre-sentencing investigation has been ordered by the court, and that Brandt will remain on bond “pending sentencing at a later date.” Brandt has also been put under house arrest until sentencing, according to a report from The Post Millennial.
He faces a maximum of 10 years in prison.