Jul 28, 2014
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Arrest Made in Connection with Orono H.S. Alum's Death

Prosecutors have charged a 17-year-old with second-degree murder.

A teenager has been arrested by St. Cloud police and charged with causing the death of former Orono High School student Colton Gleason.

The St. Cloud Times is reporting 17-year-old Jesse Jean Smithers of Sauk Rapids has been charged with second-degree murder after a punch he allegedly threw last Thursday knocked Gleason to the ground. Gleason died the next day at a St. Cloud hospital from injuries sustained in the assault.

The newspaper reports Smithers has denied involvement in Gleason's death.

Prosecutors have filed paperwork petitioning the court to certify Smithers as an adult. He will remain in jail without bail until his first court appearance next Tuesday.

"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 issued Monday afternoon. "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.'"

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Gleason played both football and soccer at Orono High School and was currently attending Minnesota State University-Mankato, where he was studying business.

A memorial fund has been established for the family of Colton Gleason. Donations can be made at any U.S. Bank branch.

Gleason worked for his family's business—New Glow Flooring & Surface Enhancement in Medina—both in high school and during breaks from college classes.

Friends of Gleason have started the Twitter hashtag  #Justice4Colton in an effort to spread word of the 20-year-old's death and generate leads for the police investigation. The Twitter handle @Justice4Colton has garnered more than 1,000 followers since being started Saturday.

Orono High School will retire Colton Gleason's No. 15 during this Thursday's varsity soccer game and present his parents with a jersey at halftime.

Patch will have additional updates to this story as they become available.

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