STILLWATER, Minn. (AP) – A man accused of holding 11 people hostage and sexually assaulting four teenage girls at gunpoint in a Minnesota motel room, leading to police fatally shooting a hostage who was trying to escape during an hours-long standoff, was sentenced Monday to 36 years in prison.
Demetrius Ballinger, 26, of Stillwater got the sentence that prosecutors requested. He was initially charged with 27 felonies, but pleaded guilty in June to five felonies, including attempted murder and four counts of rape.
According to the complaint, Ballinger, five other adults and six juveniles were in a room at the Red Roof Inn in Woodbury in August 2012 when Ballinger pulled a gun, threatened to shoot everyone and ordered them to hand over their money and cellphones. One of the females dialed 911 as she threw her phone on the floor, creating an open line for dispatchers.
After police arrived, a 19-year-old hostage, Mark Henderson, tried to escape. Ballinger shot at him. Officers heard that gunshot as the door opened and fired, believing Henderson was armed. He was not, and died at a hospital. The officers were cleared of wrongdoing.
Washington County Attorney Pete Orput said while Ballinger’s sentence may seem high, “it’s not relative to the behavior.”
“I’ve got one young dead man. I’ve got four young women who have been sexually exploited, their lives have been changed forever,” Orput told The Associated Press. “It was just an awful case.”
Two of the victims gave written impact statements, Orput said.
The complaint says Ballinger told police he raped the teens because he knew he was going to be arrested anyway.
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