According to a report from News Dakota, Shannon Brandt has pleaded guilty to manslaughter after hitting and killing 18-year-old Kayler Ellingson on September 18, 2022. The decision to downgrade the charges from murder to manslaughter was made by Foster County State’s Attorney Kara E Brinster, with the approval of Southeast Judicial District Judge Bradley Cruff.
On the night of the incident, 42-year-old Brandt reportedly engaged in a verbal argument with the teenager at a street dance. When Brandt started chasing him in his car, the young man became worried and called his mother.
Brandt proceeded to collide with Ellingson using his 2003 Ford Explorer, knocking him down and running over his torso and legs, which ultimately led to the young man’s death. Immediately after the incident, Brandt fled the scene but returned shortly thereafter to make a 911 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
During the call, Brandt falsely alleged that the victim had connections with a “right-wing extremist group,” an assertion that has been thoroughly discredited. According to a transcript of the call, Brandt stated, “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 to have to come here and handle him.’ I got scared to death. I didn’t know what to do.”
In a statement, Mark Friese, an attorney representing Brandt, expressed approval of the decision, asserting that the murder charges were unjustified and stemmed from sensationalized media coverage. Friese stated that comprehensive reports from both the prosecution and defense forensic experts confirmed that the incident was an unfortunate accident. He further emphasized that relying on unfounded speculation from the media and the community is not a valid substitute for concrete evidence.
In a plea agreement, prosecutors decided to dismiss the charges of fleeing the scene in exchange for a guilty plea. Foster County State’s Attorney Kara E Brinster mentioned that the court has ordered a pre-sentencing investigation, and Brandt will remain free on bond until the sentencing takes place at a later date. Additionally, Brandt has been placed under house arrest until the time of sentencing.