(Fargo, ND) -- A North Dakota man has pleaded guilty to killing a teenager last fall after a street dance in McHenry.
In court Thursday, Shannon Joseph Brandt entered the plea to manslaughter, a felony that carries up to 10 years in prison.
The plea comes less than two weeks before he was slated to stand trial for the death of 18-year-old Cayler Ellingson.
"Shannon was prepared for trial and anxious to present his account of the incident. Trials in emotional cases are always difficult for everyone. And the decision to enter a plea of guilty must always be made deliberately," said Brandt's attorney, Mark Friese, in a written statement provided to WDAY Radio Now.
"Several factors influenced Shannon’s decision. First, the prosecution amended the charge from homicide to manslaughter. We were unaware of their intention to do so until shortly before they did. Secondly, the prosecution deposed three of the defense witnesses last week. I suspect this provided a much clearer picture of the events for the prosecution, and likely influenced their decision to agree to further amend count 1 and to dismiss count 2. Third was his desire to protect the involved families from the adversariness of trial.
Shannon has never denied responsibility for his part in this tragic accident. A plea of guilty permits him to accept responsibility while limiting the stress and emotional toll for all involved," said Friese.