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Cass Lake man sentenced in 2017 shooting fatality

WALKER—A Cass Lake man was sentenced Friday to seven and a half years in prison for the shooting of a woman during a drug deal gone bad nearly a year before.

During the emotionally charged court hearing, Brandon Roy, 25, pleaded guilty to second-degree manslaughter, first-degree aggravated robbery and felon in possession of a firearm. However, Roy was only sentenced on the manslaughter charge.

The charges Roy pleaded to Friday were slightly different from those he originally faced. On Sept. 10, Roy had pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder, first-degree aggravated robbery and possession of a firearm by a felon.

Brandon Roy

Defense Attorney Charles Halverson said trying the case would have been difficult and at least some of the witnesses would have pleaded the Fifth Amendment. Halverson added that taking the issue to trial "would have been an exercise in futility."

Judge David Harrington sentenced Roy to 90 months in prison during the hearing that included both Roy's family as well as the family of the victim, Brandi Shank, 25. Roy will receive credit for 353 days time served.

As part of the plea, Roy answered a number of questions about shooting, which took place Nov. 12, 2017. He said he and Shank met a man at a business in Cass Lake to purchase $1,400 in methamphetamine. Roy proceeded to describe how they went to a residence where he intended to rob the man instead.

A fight broke out. As the incident progressed, Roy ran into a bathroom with another individual. The man they attempted to rob came after them, banging on the bathroom door. Roy said he was leaning against the door from the inside to prevent the man from coming in. Roy then shot a gun through the bathroom door, which struck Shank in the head.

Near the end of Friday's hearing, a woman, who later said Roy was the father of her niece, spoke up on his behalf from her seat in the audience.

"Brandon's a good person, and he's a good father," Robin Butcher said.

Though quiet during the hearing, Roy's mother, Carol Roy spoke softly afterward about how the shooting was an accident.

"They were in love; they just had a baby," Carol Roy said.

During Friday's hearing, both Shank's mother and stepfather gave victim impact statements, describing how Shank's death damaged their lives. Terri Pemberton, the victim's mother, painted a very different picture from Butcher, describing how Roy beat her daughter, kept her high, and kept her away from her children and family.

"Brandi's murder took everything from me. It took my security and it took my rest and my peace. I have lost my faith and trust in people," Pemberton said. "I have nightmares every night, so I don't sleep much anymore. I dream about my precious daughter's body left on the floor alone."

Shank's stepfather, Richard Benjamin said he was part of Shank's life since she was 4 years old. He described how Pemberton fell to the floor in grief over her daughter's death. He also told how their 2-year-old granddaughter walked up to Shank's casket, turned around and said "shhhh mommy's sleeping."

"I hope the last time he (saw) her lifeless body haunts him forever and it's the last thing he sees when he takes his last breath," Benjamin said about Roy.

Benjamin also said it's hard to hear other people talk of their children because all he has left are memories. Harrington, the judge, offered a few comments in response, saying that while Shank may be gone, those memories are still valuable. He also said that while time can heal, it can't undo all the pain.

"It's not going to heal over everything," he said.

Jordan Shearer

Jordan Shearer covers crime and social issues for the Bemidji Pioneer. A Rochester native and Bemidji State grad, he previously spent several years in western Nebraska writing for the Keith County News. Follow him on Twitter @Jmanassa

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