A man accused of a shooting and raping spree in a Woodbury motel in August pleaded guilty Thursday to five felony counts and will serve at least 24 years in prison.
Demetrius S. Ballinger, of North St. Paul, held 11 people hostage in the Red Roof Inn during an hours-long standoff with police on Aug. 31. Armed with a handgun, he shot Marc Eric Henderson, Jr., who was trying to escape, and committed sexual assaults on four teenage girls at gunpoint.
Appearing before Judge Ellen Maas in Washington County District Court, Ballinger pleaded guilty to one count of second-degree attempted murder and four counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct.
In the confusion, Henderson staggered from the room and was shot by three Woodbury police officers. He died later that day at Region's Hospital.
A grand jury cleared police of wrongdoing.
Under the plea agreement, 22 other felony counts were dismissed. The 24 years of prison time would be extended if he doesn't behave himself behind bars, County Attorney Pete Orput said.
Prosecutor Siv Yurichuk was pleased with the sentence but said the girls raped that night fear that Ballinger will escape from prison and harm them. One was 15 and three were 16. "The girls have been suffering tremendously the last nine months," she said.