North Dakota Man Receives Five-Year Sentence For Killing Teen

On Friday, authorities handed down a five-year state prison sentence to a North Dakota man who fatally struck an 18-year-old with his car. This incident occurred after the man voiced concerns about the teenager’s alleged affiliation with a “Republican extremist” group.

Shannon Brandt from Glenfield, North Dakota, entered a guilty plea for manslaughter in May. This followed his fatal collision with Cayler Ellingson using his 2003 Ford Explorer on September 18, 2022, in McHenry, North Dakota.

Reportedly, a state district court judge imposed Brandt’s sentence, which included almost a year of credit for time spent under house arrest. The sentence also entails three years of supervised probation and a one-year suspension of his driver’s license.

According to The Associated Press, the maximum penalty for these charges is ten years in prison, a $20,000 fine or both.

Sheri Ellingson, the mother of Cayler, purportedly urged the judge to impose the harshest possible sentence on Brandt.

She said, “Shannon, you took a piece of our family that’s not replaceable. When you chose to take Cayler’s life and happiness, you took ours too. You have caused our family endless pain, heartache, sleepless nights.”

She added, “Our days, months and years will never be the same because of your selfishness.”

The case stirred controversy when a police affidavit initially indicated that Brandt had struck Ellingson due to a political dispute. However, investigators subsequently retracted this claim as there was insufficient evidence to support it.

According to Foster County State Attorney Kara Brinster, Brandt had consumed alcohol and engaged in an argument with Ellingson prior to the incident.

In a 911 call, Brandt asserted that he had perceived a threat from Ellingson due to the teenager’s purported affiliation with a “Republican extremist group.” He claimed that Ellingson was inciting others to assault him following a political dispute, as per the call.

Brandt explained that he unintentionally struck the teenager while attempting to distance himself from him during a crowded event in McHenry.

The autopsy report indicated that Ellingson’s fatal injuries did not result from being hit by Shannon Brandt’s vehicle but rather from being run over after he had fallen to the ground.

Initially, authorities charged Brandt with criminal vehicular homicide, but Foster County State’s Attorney Kara Brinster subsequently elevated the charges to murder, as reported by Fox News. These charges were later downgraded to manslaughter, to which Brandt entered a guilty plea on May 18.

Before the judge issued Brandt’s sentence, he spoke in court and extended an apology to all those affected by his actions.

It was reported that Brandt had received a diagnosis of autism, a fact that Foster County Judge Bradley Cruff acknowledged during the sentencing.

Cruff said, “You didn’t intentionally run him over. I acknowledge that. I understand what the experts in this case are saying about how your mind works. And you didn’t intentionally kill Cayler. But he did die. And that’s a result of your alcohol consumption. You recklessly pushed Cayler to the ground with your SUV, you recklessly ran him over and you recklessly killed him.”