MCHENRY, North Dakota – Charges have been upgraded in the hit and run that took the life of an 18-year-old Cayler Ellingson after. Prosecutors now say that they have what is needed to upgrade to Felony murder, and they also say that there was a political argument prior to the hit and run.
Foster County State’s Attorney Kara Brinster has moved to dismiss the charges of Criminal Vehicular Homicide and Duty against 41-year-old Shannon Brandt. The state has filed new criminal charges against Brandt, including Murder (AA Felony) and Duty in Accident Involving Death or Injury (B Felony).
Brandt is accused of hitting and killing Ellingson of Grace City, North Dakota with his vehicle on Sunday, September 18th. Deputies say the crash happened in an alleyway near Johnston Street and Jones Avenue in McHenry, ND.
Brandt told State Radio that Ellingson was part of a Republican extremist group and that he was afraid they were “coming to get him.”
Investigators say none of the witnesses they have interviewed support the idea that there was a political argument before authorities say Shannon Brandt struck Cayler Ellingson with his vehicle. A family friend who knew the teen said he wasn’t active in politics.
According to Valley News Live, newly filed court documentation detail the conversation Brandt had with a dispatcher when he called 911. The documents say while Brant was on the phone with State Radio, he made comments regarding the incident being intentional and not an accident. Brandt is quoted in court documents asking the dispatcher, “I just wanna ask you a question, am I going to go to prison?” Brandt also told dispatchers, “yes I just tried to take off en (and), he wasn’t going to let me go, I hit him I didn’t mean to and he’s subdued I was scared to death but he’s subdued, he can’t do anything to me now, so this is why I’m calling you. I mean, I almost, oh god, I almost just runaway but I thought jeez obviously if it was a total accident I wouldn’t be scared but I know it was more than that.”
Court documents say during the Highway Patrol’s accident investigation, there were no acceleration marks or skid marks in the gravel where Ellingson was found.
Additionaly, the report that the autopsy of Ellingson found that he was on the ground when he received his injuries. Dr. Kevin Maley says that means Ellingson’s injuries weren’t caused from being hit by Shannon Brandt’s vehicle and were caused by being run over.
He was released from jail on Sept. 20 after posting a $50,000, and wasn’t placed on house arrest or curfew, but couldn’t leave North Dakota or drink.