North Dakota Man Who Killed ‘Republican’ Teen Faces 10 Years

The 42-year-old North Dakota man who confessed to killing 18-year-old Cayler Ellingson by running him over with his vehicle because he was “part of a Republican extremist group” faces a maximum of 10 years in prison.

Shannon Brandt was first charged with vehicular manslaughter, but prosecutors upgraded the charge to murder in September 2023.

According to reports, Brandt said he was concerned Ellingson was “part of a Republican extremist group and that he was afraid they were ‘coming to get him.’”

Valley News reported that after leaving the crash scene, deputies visited Brandt’s home in Glenfield, North Dakota. Brandt admitted to having alcohol in his system before the incident and said he hit Ellingson with his vehicle because of a political argument. He also told deputies that he initially fled the crash scene, then returned to call the police, but left again before anyone could arrive.

Court documents say that before the crash, Ellingson called his mother and asked if she knew who Brandt was. She said yes and told Ellingson she would be picking him up shortly. Moments later, court documents say Ellingson called his mother again to say that “they” were chasing him. After the second call, Ellingson could no longer be reached.

Prosecutors reduced Brandt’s charge to manslaughter, which carries a maximum 10-year prison sentence. Brandt recently entered a guilty plea on the manslaughter charges, avoiding a trial set for May 30, 2023.

Mark Friese, an attorney representing Brandt, told WDYA Radio Now that his client entered the guilty plea “to protect the involved families from the adversariness of trial.”

“Several factors influenced Shannon’s decision. First, the prosecution amended the charge from homicide to manslaughter. We were unaware of their intention to do so until shortly before they did. Secondly, the prosecution deposed three of the defense witnesses last week,” Friese explained.

“I suspect this provided a much clearer picture of the events for the prosecution, and likely influenced their decision to agree to further amend count 1 and to dismiss count 2. Third was his desire to protect the involved families from the adversariness of trial,” he added.

“Shannon has never denied responsibility for his part in this tragic accident. A plea of guilty permits him to accept responsibility while limiting the stress and emotional toll for all involved,” he continued.

Ellingson’s death comes less than a month after President Joe Biden labeled “MAGA Republicans” as dangerous “extremists” and “white supremacists.”