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Driver Gets Appallingly Lenient Sentence for Killing Teen in Case That Drew Trump’s Interest

Shannon Brandt, the North Dakota man who killed an 18-year-old in September 2022.
@FoxNews / X

The following article, Driver Gets Appallingly Lenient Sentence for Killing Teen in Case That Drew Trump's Interest, was first published on Flag And Cross.

A North Dakota man has been sentenced to five years in prison in an incident that made political waves last fall.

Shannon Brandt struck and killed 18-year-old Cayler Ellingson in September 2022, in McHenry, North Dakota according to The Associated Press.

Brandt pleaded guilty in May to killing Ellingson. He initially told police Ellingson was a “Republican extremist” who had been threatening him.

Brandt had said in his call to 911 to report the incident that Ellingson “wouldn’t let me leave,” according to Fox News.

An affidavit said that at the time, Brandt claimed Ellingson was calling other people to “get him.”

“He got on my vehicle and I couldn’t get him away from me,” Brandt said. “He was threatening me. He was saying something about some Republican extremist group, saying, ‘I thought he was part of us.’”

As a result of those comments, the case drew national political attention and was cited by former President Donald Trump at a rally. Trump said the national media ignored the case because of the politics involved, according to Fox News.

However, police said that after a full investigation, there was no political undertone to the incident.

“There has been no corroboration that this was even politically motivated at all,” North Dakota Highway Patrol Capt. Bryan Niewind told the AP.

The initial charge against Brandt was criminal vehicular manslaughter, which was upgraded to murder before being reduced to manslaughter at the time of Brandt’s plea, according to Fox News.

The North Dakota State Medical Examiner’s Office ruled the death was an accident, saying Brandt was trying to end his confrontation with Ellingson when Ellingson was run over.

Brandt’s sentence will mean roughly four years in jail, because he was given credit for time served, which is almost a year.

Brandt faces three years of supervised probation upon his release.

Foster County Judge Bradley Cruff noted that Brandt’s diagnosis of autism, plus his inebriated condition, played a role in the accident.

“You didn’t intentionally run him over. I acknowledge that. I understand what the experts in this case are saying about how your mind works. And you didn’t intentionally kill Cayler,” Cruff said, according to Fox.

“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.”

Sheri Ellingson, Cayler Ellingson’s mother, sought the maximum sentence of 10 years for her son’s death, according to Fox.

“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,” Ellingson said, according to Fox.

Brandt offered an apology in court.

“I’m here to take responsibility for the role I played in this tragedy. I’m very sorry to the Ellingson family, my family, and anybody else that has been affected by my actions,” he said, according to Fox.

“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.”

This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.

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