Shannon Brandt was sentenced to 5 years in state prison on Friday for fatally running over 18-year-old Cayler Ellingson following a street dance.
Brandt, 42, ran over Ellingson with his 2003 Ford Explorer on Sept. 18, 2022, in McHenry, North Dakota after an argument, prosecutors said. An arrest affidavit filed by a North Dakota State Patrol officer states that Brandt told a 911 operator that Ellingson “wouldn’t let me leave.” According to the affidavit, Brandt also told the 911 operator that Ellingson was calling other people to “get him.”
“He got on my vehicle and I couldn’t get him away from me,” Brandt said of Ellingson. “He was threatening me. He was saying something about some Republican extremist group, saying, ‘I thought he was part of us.'”
Ellingson was taken to a local hospital with severe injuries and later died. Brandt initially left the scene of the incident but returned and called 911.
An affidavit filed by a North Dakota State Patrol officer stated that Brandt called Ellingson a “Republican extremist,” though a review of the 911 call transcript shows that wasn’t the case. North Dakota Highway Patrol Capt. Bryan Niewind previously told Fox News Digital earlier that there was “no evidence” suggesting that the teenager was part of a “Republican extremist group” or that the incident was politically driven.
Brandt was initially charged with criminal vehicular manslaughter, but Forster County State’s Attorney Kara Brinster later upgraded those charges to murder.
On May 2, the charges were reduced to manslaughter and Brandt pleaded guilty on May 18.
According to Fox affiliate KVRR, Brandt was sentenced to five years in state prison but will get credit time served for his house arrest, which reduces his jail time by almost a year. Once he’s released from prison, he will undergo three years of supervised probation.
The North Dakota State Medical Examiner’s Office concluded that the incident was an accident, issuing a report stating that Brandt was trying to get out of a confrontation with Ellingson when he ran him over with the 2003 Ford Explorer.
According to KVRR, Brinster requested five years in prison for Brandt with credit for time served, as well as three years of supervised release. She alleged that statements made by Brandt to investigators didn’t line up with the case’s evidence and didn’t take enough accountability for the death of Ellingson.
Foster County Judge Bradley Cruff spent a significant amount of time during Friday’s sentencing to address Brandt’s autism diagnosis, which experts believe caused an exaggerated reaction and response in the situation with Ellingson.
“You didn’t intentionally run him over. I acknowledge that. I understand what the experts in this case are saying about how your mind work. 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,” Cruff said.
Sheri Ellingson, Cayler’s mother, asked the judge not to follow the plea agreement and hand down the maximum sentence for manslaughter, 10 years.
“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. Our days, months, and years will never be the same because of your selfishness,” Sheri Ellingson said.
Brandt also addressed the court before being sentenced.
“I’m here to take responsibility for the role I played in this tragedy. I’ve very sorry to the Ellingson family, my family, and anybody else that has been affected by my actions. I have always enjoyed seeing the Ellingsons and would never have intentionally caused harm to any of them. I am truly devastated by the impact this has had on the entire community,” Brandt said.
Brandt’s attorney, Mark Friese, told Fox News Digital “Shannon is relieved that the matter is concluded and those affected by this tragedy can start to heal.”