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Man sentenced in Woodbury hostage, rape case

WOODBURY, Minn. -- A man who sexually assaulted several teenage girls while holding them and others at gunpoint last year received a 36-year sentence Monday.

Demetrius Santreell Ballinger must serve at least 24 years in prison for the standoff at the Woodbury Red Roof Inn in August 2012. He pleaded guilty in June to five counts, including attempted murder and rape charges.

The sentence, handed down by Judge Ellen Maas, also calls for 12 years on supervised release and lifetime probation. He was also ordered to register as a predatory sex offender.

The sentence included punishment for shooting hostage Mark E. Henderson, who later died when Woodbury police shot him as he fled the room and they mistook him for a suspect. A grand jury cleared the officers of wrongdoing.

Statements submitted to Washington County District Court by mothers of the girls were read at Monday’s hearing.

“My child endured a night of hell,” one mother wrote. “She sees him everywhere – the bus, the mall, the movies.”

Ballinger apologized Monday to the victims and their families.

“I was a selfish, irresponsible coward,” he said. “As hard for me to sit here and admit that, it’s true.”