The North Dakota man accused of a fatal hit and run of a teenager now faces a charge of murder.
Shannon Brandt, 41, was initially charged with criminal vehicular homicide in the hit-and-run killing of Cayler Ellingson on Sept. 18. The criminal vehicular homicide charge has since been dropped.
On Friday, Foster County State’s Attorney Kara Brinster announced that Brandt is being charged with murder with a dangerous weapon in addition to duty in an accident involving death, according to Fox News. Both are felonies, and the murder charge carries a maximum sentence of life in prison if convicted.
Brandt was released from jail on Sept. 20 after posting a $50,000 bond. He was not placed on house arrest and didn’t have a curfew.
Brandt reportedly turned himself in on Friday at the Stutsman County Correction Center.
The upgraded charges stem from an investigation by the North Dakota Highway Patrol, Foster County Sheriff’s Department, and the North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation.
Brandt allegedly ran over the 18-year-old with his SUV following a “political argument.” Brady reportedly left the crime scene that happened after a street dance party in McHenry.
Brandt called 911 and “made comments regarding the incident being intentional and not an accident,” according to the affidavit.
Court documents say Brandt asked the 911 operator, “I just wanna ask you a question, am I going to prison?”
Brandt allegedly told the 911 dispatcher, “I hit him and 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.”
Brandt added, “I almost, oh god, I almost just run away but I thought jeez obviously if it was a total accident I wouldn’t be scared but I know it was more than that,” according to the affidavit.
Brandt reportedly told the 911 dispatcher that Ellingson “wouldn’t let him leave” and made a call to someone saying “something to the effect of you’re going to have to come here and handle him.”
Ellingson allegedly only called his mother and father.
At 2:34 a.m., Ellingson called his mother Sheri Ellingson, and suggested that “maybe he should call his cousins or posse,” according to the affidavit. The mother of the slain teenager allegedly informed him that he “didn’t need to do that and that she was on her way to pick” him up.
Ellingson’s final call with his mother was at 2:42 a.m., when he said “something to the effect of they are after me or he is after me,” and the phone call dropped, according to the affidavit.
Ellingson was taken to a local hospital, but later died.
Brandt drove to his home in Glenfield. Law enforcement tracked him down at his house, where they said he was visibly intoxicated. Police said a breathalyzer test revealed Brandt’s blood alcohol level was above the legal limit to drive.
An investigation by the highway patrol did not find acceleration or skid marks in the gravel alley where Ellingson was hit by the SUV. Investigators also noted that Brandt’s SUV had little to no damage.
An autopsy performed on Ellingson showed that his fatal injuries “weren’t caused from being struck by Shannon Brandt’s vehicle and were caused by being run over,” the affidavit stated.
Brandt initially told authorities that he got into a “political argument” with Ellingson. He described the teen as a member of a “Republican extremist group.”
North Dakota Highway Patrol Capt. Bryan Niewind said of the alleged extremist ties, “There is no evidence to support the claim Brandt made about Ellingson.”
A funeral for Cayler Ellingson was held on Monday at the Trinity Lutheran Church in Carrington, North Dakota.