(RightWing.org) – On September 18, 2022, McHenry, North Dakota, residents gathered for a street dance. Unfortunately, the community celebration turned into a tragedy when Shannon Brandt, age 41, struck and killed 18-year-old Cayler Ellingson with his SUV. Recent news reports indicated the murderer recently reached a sweetheart deal with prosecutors for his role in the teenager’s death.
On Friday, May 19, CBS affiliate WCCO-TV reported that Foster County lead prosecutor Kara Brinster issued a press release confirming that Brandt pleaded guilty to one count of manslaughter on Thursday. Her office agreed to dismiss a charge of leaving the accident in exchange for his plea. Brandt faces up to 10 years in prison and remains free on a bond pending his sentencing hearing at an undisclosed date.
North Dakota man pleads guilty to fatal hit-and-run in case that drew political attention https://t.co/u3ypOSUxrc
— WCCO | CBS News Minnesota (@WCCO) May 19, 2023
Ellingson’s murder first captured public attention shortly after the incident when news outlets reported that Brandt killed the teen because he thought Ellingson was a conservative extremist.
Law & Crime reported that a probable cause affidavit explained there was “no evidence” Ellingson was a “Republican extremist” or was killed over politics. Emergency rescue logs maintained by 911 operators showed that Brandt called them and said he deliberately “struck [a] pedestrian” after an argument because the individual “was threatening him.” He also indicated he knew the victim was “part of a Republican extremist group” but didn’t elaborate on that claim.
Police investigators subsequently tracked Brandt to his home. He reportedly waived his rights and admitted to “consuming alcohol” before striking Ellinson with his vehicle. The officers arrested him for suspicion of driving under the influence. A chemical blood test confirmed his alcohol level was above the legal statutory limit of 0.08%. Neighbors confirmed that Brandt had a history of violent behavior when he consumed alcohol.
Prosecutors initially charged Brandt with vehicular manslaughter. They later upgraded the complaint to felony murder and added fleeing the scene of an accident resulting in death.
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