Murder charges in deadly punch of student in St. Cloud - KMSP-TV

Teen charged with murder in deadly St. Cloud punch

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Colton Gleason Colton Gleason
ST. CLOUD, Minn. (KMSP) -

Murder charges were filed Tuesday against a 17-year-old boy arrested in the death of 20-year-old student Colton Gleason near the St. Cloud State University campus.

Jesse Jean Smithers, of Sauk Rapids, was charged with second-degree murder, first-degree manslaughter and first-degree assault in juvenile court on Tuesday.

Prosecutors characterized the fatal punch as a tragic, unprovoked attack. No motive has been established so far.

Smithers will remain in jail without bail until his court appearance because officials say he is a danger to himself and others. In fact, prosecutors have also requested a no-contact order in the case because some witnesses have reportedly been threatened.

Police said Colton Gleason was walking in an alley with two women at about 11:30 p.m. on Thursday night when a car carrying five to seven people passed them and stopped.

According to the charging petition, Smithers told the driver to stop and got out of the car. He then approached Gleason and punched him in the head with a closed fist, dropping him to the ground. Smithers then got back in the car and indicated he punched the man that was knocked unconscious.

Gleason regained consciousness at the St. Cloud Hospital, but subsequently died from injuries he sustained in the attack.

The two women were not hurt, but they were only able to give vague descriptions of the suspects to police. Police declined to say where Gleason and his two friends had been that night or where they may have been going

Gleason, of Greenfield, Minn., was studying business at Minnesota State University- Mankato. His father said he was an amazing young man who had lots of friends and was adored by his family.

"You know, we've lost our baby and we're all hurting because of that," John Gleason, the victim's father, told FOX 9 News outside the court room. "Right now, we need this to happen."

Gleason spoke alongside his wife and two sons, saying although it was tough for them, they needed to see the person who killed Colton Gleason.

"I'm going to be honest with you. This is a really hard thing," he said. "We know we need to see the person who took our son's life -- and you know, right now, we're just numb."

The Stearns County attorney has filed a motion to have Smithers tried as an adult in the case, noting his significant court history. He is currently awaiting sentencing for a previous assault.

"All we can do now is depend on the justice system itself to make this person pay for a senseless, coward's crime," Gleason said.

Police say Gleason and Smithers didn't know each other.

Gleason also thanked officers and for quickly making an arrest before leaving the court.

"First, we want to thank all the people who've given us their prayers and support and helped us through this time," he said. "We also want to thank law enforcement that actually moved so quickly at apprehending someone."

Gleason said knowing that someone is in custody lets them begin their process of healing, but he said they "know it's a long road."

Jesse Smithers is scheduled to appear in court on the afternoon of Oct. 2, with a hearing to certify him as an adult on Oct. 30.

Smithers is listed on the St. Cloud Tech High School football team's roster, and students say the senior played on the junior varsity team as a wide receiver in a game just two weeks ago.

"I'm a little shocked," said Isaiah Sargent. "Knowing him, he seemed like a good person. Some of my friends are best friends with him. I never expected him to do anything like that."

The district superintendent told FOX 9 News Smithers attends the St. Cloud Area Learning Center.

However, Smithers' attorney told FOX 9 News the teen was not involved in the incident at all.

FOX 9 News attempted to contact Smithers' family, but no one wished to comment.

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