Trial dates tentatively set in North Dakota murder case

December 29, 2022

FARGO (KFGO) – Tentative dates have been agreed upon for the murder trial of Shannon Brandt, who is accused of murdering 18-year-old Cayler Ellingson after a street dance in McHenry in September.

At a hearing held via Zoom on Thursday morning, Southeast District Judge Bradley Cruff designated two weeks for the trial and scheduled it to start on May 30 and run through June 9, 2023.

Where the trial will be held is still an open question after the case drew national attention when some initial reports suggested Brandt’s comments to officers during his arrest indicated Ellingson’s death was politically-motivated. Recently-released 911 transcripts and court documents do not support those claims, and Highway Patrol investigators have denied them.

Brandt’s attorney Mark Friese indicated at hearing he would be filing a change-of-venue stipulation and that State’s Attorney Kara Brinster had agreed the trial was unlikely to be tried in Foster County as a result of the case’s high profile.

Brandt is under house arrest and electronic monitoring, but has been serving his detention somewhere other than at his primary residence. Friese made a request at the hearing to allow Brandt to visit that home for four hours each month to check his mail and furnace and maintain his home, but Brinster objected and Cruff denied the request.