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Forum News Service, Published June 13 2013

Man faces 24 years in Woodbury motel hostage standoff

STILLWATER, Minn. - A man accused of holding a group of people hostage last year during a deadly night at Woodbury’s Red Roof Inn will spend at least 24 years in prison under a plea agreement reached Thursday.

Demetrius Santreell Ballinger, 26, pleaded guilty in Washington County District Court to five counts, including criminal sexual conduct and attempted murder. Other charges, including aggravated robbery, were dismissed.

During Thursday’s hearing, Ballinger admitted to accusations set forth in a criminal complaint, which alleged he shot his friend Mark Henderson as he attempted to flee a room Aug. 31 at the Red Roof, then held several people hostage inside the room.

During the four-hour standoff with police, Ballinger sexually assaulted one 15-year-old girl and three 16-year-olds, the complaint states.

Ballinger said he was under the influence of drugs and alcohol when he went to the Red Roof Inn motel room for a party with 11 others, most of whom he did not know.

In court, he said was still aware of his actions and that when he shot Henderson, he attempted to kill him. Henderson died after receiving additional gunfire from police, who mistook him for an advancing suspect. A grand jury later cleared the officers in the shooting.

Ballinger is scheduled for sentencing Oct. 7.