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Man Charged With Murder For St. Cloud Fatal Punch

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ST. CLOUD, Minn. (WCCO) — A juvenile petition was filed Tuesday for one count of second-degree murder, one count of first-degree manslaughter and one count of first-degree assault against a teen accused in the fatal punching death of a Greenfield man.

Seventeen-year-old Jesse Jean Smithers, of St. Cloud, has been charged in the death of 20-year-old Colton Gleason. Charges allege Smithers fatally punched Gleason in an alley.

“We’ve lost our baby, and we’re all hurting because of that,” said Colton’s father, John. “Right now, we’re just numb.”

“We have been in a lot of contact with the Gleason family already,” said Stearns County Attorney Janelle Kendall. “This is horrible, but we are working around the clock on it.”

According to the authorities, St. Cloud Police were dispatched around 11:20 p.m. last Thursday on a report of an assault in the 600 block, between 8th and 9th avenues south.

Investigators say Smithers was a passenger in a vehicle that was driving through the alley where Gleason and two other individuals were walking.

Smithers told the driver to stop the car and then got out of the vehicle. Charges say Smithers then approached the group and struck Gleason in the head with a closed fist. Gleason dropped to the ground. Smither then got back into the vehicle and said he punched Gleason.

“All we can do now is depend on the justice system itself to make this person pay for a senseless crime,” John Gleason said.

Police say Gleason was unconscious while being transported by ambulance to St. Cloud Hospital, and regained consciousness at the hospital but died from his injuries.

Police arrested Smithers after receiving a tip Monday night.

Smither’s aunt says he was with her when the deadly attack happened and said there’s no way he could have killed Gleason.

Smithers remains in custody, without bail, until his next court hearing. The Stearns County Attorney’s Office has also filed a motion for Smithers to be tried as an adult. His next court appearance is Oct. 2.

WCCO-TV spoke with Gleason’s girlfriend, Lauren Thorson. She said she remembers Gleason as a young man who made everyone he met feel special.

She helped put together a Twitter account, @Justice4Colton. They hoped it would get the word out about the attack while also serving as a place to share memories.

“People are writing memories on the account. They are putting pictures up, just little blurbs about him that make me smile,” Thorson said.

Gleason was also the captain of his soccer team at Orono High School. On Thursday night, the team will honor him by retiring his jersey.

A memorial fund has been set up for Gleason. You can donate at any US Bank.

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