A North Dakota man accused of mowing down an 18-year-old with his car because he thought the young man was a “Republican extremist” has pleaded guilty to manslaughter after initially being charged with murder.
Instead of the prospect of life in prison, Shannon Brandt, 42, now faces a maximum sentence of 10 years behind bars in connection with the death of Cayler Ellingson, KVRR-TV reported.
Brandt’s attorney, Mark Friese, told the news station earlier this month that the local prosecutor had dropped the murder charge on her own and that “it was not a part of any plea deal.”
The station added that a charge of leaving the scene of an accident had been dismissed. Brandt will be sentenced at a later date.
The deadly confrontation began around 2 a.m. on Sept. 18 after a dance in the town of McHenry, according to KVLY-TV.
“Just before the crash, Ellingson called his mom and asked if they knew who Brandt was,” the station reported, citing court documents. “She said yes, and told her son she was on her way to pick him up.”
A short time later, according to the report, “Ellingson called his mom again to say that ‘he’ or ‘they’ were chasing him.”
After Brandt intentionally struck Ellingson with his SUV, the young man was pronounced dead at a Carrington hospital.
Police went from the scene of the incident to Brandt’s home in nearby Glenfield.
“Brandt admitted to consuming alcohol before the incident, and stated he hit Ellingson with his car because he had a political argument with him,” KVLY reported.
“Brandt also admitted to deputies that he initially left the crash scene, then returned to call 911, but left again before deputies could arrive.”
Brandt stated in his 911 call that Ellingson was part of a “Republican extremist group” that he feared was “coming to get him.”
A later Fox News report quoted North Dakota Highway Patrol Capt. Bryan Niewind as saying there was “no evidence” that Ellingson was a “Republican extremist.”
Ellingson had graduated from Carrington High School a few months before his death, in May 2022.
He recently had begun studying to be an ultrasound technician.
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.