Self-defense plea possible for teen accused in 'one-punch' death

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The teenager accused of throwing one punch and causing a college student’s death filed a notice in court that he might argue that he acted in self-defense.

The St Cloud Times reports that Jesse Jean Smithers, 18, was charged last September with second-degree murder and first-degree manslaughter for the death of Colton Gleason, 20, of Greenfield.

Smithers was 17 at the time of the incident, but has been certified as an adult. He is scheduled to stand trial Nov. 12 in Stearns County District Court.

Smithers is accused of punching Gleason in an alley in St. Cloud as Gleason walked with two female friends. Gleason hit his head on the ground and was unconscious when he was taken to St. Cloud Hospital, where he died from his injuries.

Court records say Smithers was a passenger in a vehicle passing through the alley. Someone in the group that included Gleason hit the vehicle as it drove past, prompting a group to get out of the car, according to court records. One person punched Gleason, who fell backward. A court complaint accuses Smithers of being the person who threw the punch. Smithers has denied having anything to do with the incident that led to Gleason’s death.

Gleason was studying business at Minnesota State University-Mankato. Police say Gleason and Smithers didn't know each other.

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