North Dakota DA Gives Sweetheart Deal to Man Who Ran Down a Conservative Teen That Will Probably Keep Him out of Jail

Shannon Brandt confesses to murdering 18-year-old Trump supporter Cayler Ellingson in North Dakota. Screengrab credit: WDAY/YouTube

Nearly a year ago, on September 18, 2022, 41-year-old Shannon (this is a man, in case you were wondering) Brandt ran down and killed 18-year-old Cayler Ellingson on a McHenry, North Dakota, street. Brandt was driving with a BAC above the legal limit, but his impaired driving wasn’t the problem; he targeted Ellingson for death, and after killing him, he left the scene. Ellingson, according to Brandt, was a Republican extremist and pretty much had it coming:


Brandt, a Glenfield resident, was arrested in the early morning hours of Sunday after he told the state first responders’ radio that “he struck the pedestrian because the pedestrian was threatening him,” according to a probable-cause affidavit provided to Fox News Digital on Wednesday morning.

“Brandt stated that the pedestrian called some people and Brandt was afraid they were coming to get him,” the document continues. “Brandt admitted to State Radio that he hit the pedestrian and that the pedestrian was part of a Republican extremist group.”

After admitting to killing Ellingson on purpose, Brandt was freed on a $50,000 bond and placed in home confinement. He told the judge, “I have a job, a life and a house and things I don’t want to see go by the wayside — family that are very important to me.”

Despite the minimal bond, it seemed like Bradt was in a lot of trouble. As is only fair if you are driving under the influence, chase a kid through the streets, run him down, leave the scene, and then tell the cops you did it because he was a Republican extremist.


If convicted on the vehicular homicide charge, Brandt would face a minimum of 10 years in prison because of a DUI on his record.

The maximum for the crime is 20 years.

Troopers say as the investigation develops, they could recommend more serious charges.

RedState reported on this calculated murder in Driver Admits to Intentionally Running Over Teen, Claims He Was ‘Republican Extremist’, Some Political Violence Is Perfectly Acceptable to the Activist Media, If Words Are ‘Violence,’ When Is Violence ‘Violence?’, and North Dakota Driver Released From Jail After Confessing to Mowing Down Man He Believed Was an “Extremist Republican”.

Thursday, Shannon Brandt was allowed to plead guilty to a single charge of manslaughter. All other charges were dismissed.

Foster County State Attorney Kara Brinster said in a news release Thursday that Brandt had been drinking and argued with Ellingson before driving erratically and knocking the victim down with his car and running over his legs and torso.

A probable cause affidavit said Brandt left the scene and was visibly intoxicated when authorities found him at his home in Glenfield.

In exchange for his guilty plea, prosecutors dismissed a charge of leaving the scene of an accident. Brandt remains free on bond pending sentencing. He faces up to 10 years in prison.

Jack Posobiec and some other prominent accounts are labeling Foster County State Attorney Kara Brinster as a radical leftist.


I can’t find anything on her that makes me feel comfortable going with that label. That doesn’t mean Posobiec is wrong; it just means that I don’t have the resources or the time to do an exhaustive vetting of her record.

What I will virtually guarantee, though, is that Brandt walks away from this a free man.

First, they’ve waited nearly two years to bring a confessed murder to the stage of a plea bargain. Foster County, ND, may be swamped with felonies, and they are only now getting around to adjudicating the case. Still, a better explanation is that a) they had no intention of prosecuting this murder as a murder, and b) to do that, they needed to give people time to forget and the media an excuse to forget about it.

Second, by reducing the charges from murder to manslaughter, the unfortunate confession by Brandt that he ran down Ellingson because of his political views goes away.

Third, by dropping the leaving the scene and DUI charges, there are no aggravating factors.

So, presto change-o, a politically motivated murder suddenly becomes a run-of-the-mill death in a motor vehicle accident.

Still, this exposes Brandt to a potential sentence of a decade in prison.

Not so fast there, Scooter.


IANAL, but I can read English as well as any infantryman from Southside, Virginia.

North Dakota organizes felony crimes into four separate categories: class AA, class A, class B, and class C felonies. Class AA is the highest felony level and class C is the lowest. This article will discuss felony sentencing, parole, and expungement in North Dakota.

  • Class B felonies carry a maximum sentence of ten years’ imprisonment and a $20,000 fine. Class B felonies include manslaughter, sexual imposition, and armed robbery.
  • Class C felonies carry a maximum penalty of five years’ imprisonment and $10,000 fine. Examples include negligent homicide, theft of a firearm, and perjury.

Generally, a judge will hand down a sentence that includes a term of imprisonment and then either “execute or stay” the prison sentence. Executing the sentence means the offender will go to prison. Staying a sentence means the judge will suspend the prison sentence and give the offender a chance to serve the sentence in the community on probation.

North Dakota law authorizes judges to defer (put off) imposing a sentence and instead place the defendant on probation. This option was previously only available in misdemeanor cases but now is an option for felonies. When the judge defers imposition of a sentence, it offers the defendant the chance to avoid a conviction and record (not just prison time) by successfully completing probation.

The law presumes that class C felony sentences should be stayed (called presumed probation), but a judge can override this presumption if the circumstances warrant it.


Because Brandt will be pleading guilty to vehicular manslaughter without aggravating circumstances, and because the law presumes probation for negligent homicide, I think it is a safe bet that Brandt gets probation.

It gets better.

In 2019, North Dakota lawmakers enacted a law authorizing expungement (or sealing) of felony criminal records if the person remains crime-free for five years after completion of the sentence.

Five years from now, Shannon Brandt will have a clean record and never have spent a night in jail for what could have reasonably been prosecuted as a targeted political killing with lots of aggravating factors. Cayler Ellingson, however, will still be dead.


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