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Teenager Charged in Orono High School Alum's Death Will Be Tried as an Adult

Colton Gleason died last September of injuries sustained during an assault in St. Cloud.

A Stearns County judge ruled Monday that a 17-year-old male charged with causing the death of a former Orono High School student and soccer star will be tried as an adult.

The St. Cloud Times was the first to report that Jesse Jean Smithers had been certified as an adult. Smithers is charged with second-degree murder after prosecutors say a punch he threw last September near St. Cloud State University caused Colton Gleason to fall and strike his head. Gleason died the next day at St. Cloud Hospital.

St. Cloud Police Chief Blair Anderson said Gleason was in St. Cloud visiting friends and was walking with two other individuals when the attack occurred.

Related posts:

  • What Friends of Slain Orono H.S. Alum are Saying Online
  • Orono Boy's Soccer Team Pauses to Remember Colton Gleason
  • Family of Colton Gleason Establishes Memorial Fund
  • What Friends of Slain Orono H.S. Alum are Saying Online
  • Orono H.S. Alum Dies After Assault in St. Cloud

Smithers was arrested about a week after Gleason's death following information submitted to investigators by the public. A Twitter-based group called Justice4Colton formed within hours of Gleason's death and is widely credited with helping to generate leads during the investigation's intial phases.

"Through investigation it was learned that Jesse Jean Smithers was a passenger in a vehicle that was driving through the alley where the victim and two other individuals were walking," Stearns County prosecutors wrote in a news release the day Smithers was arrested. "Smithers told the driver to stop the car and got out of the vehicle.  Smithers approached the group and struck the victim in his head with a closed fist. The victim dropped to the ground. Smithers immediately got back in the vehicle and indicated that he had 'punched the guy.'"

Smithers remains in custody in lieu of $500,000 bail. He has denied all involvement in Gleason's death.

Gleason played both football and soccer at Orono High School. He worked for his family's business—New Glow Flooring & Surface Enhancement in Medina—both in high school and during breaks from college classes.

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