Jury: Britton NOT GUILTY
HUDSON — Defense lawyer Earl Gray said a number of factors led a St. Croix County jury to acquit his client of felony murder Friday, including the fact the UW-Stout who died took a bike with defective brakes and was intoxicated.
"I am guessing if I were on the jury I would find the alleged battery did not cause the death of (Brad Simon)," Gray said.
Gray was pleased with the verdict that acquitted Jared C. Britton, 23, now of Maplewood, Minn. of all charges.
He was charged with party to the crime of felony murder and party to the crime of felony battery in the death of Bradley L. Simon, 22, last September.
"It was very difficult certainly because of the emotion involved," Gray said. "It was a terrible accident. It's a clear example why college students should limit their drinking. My client is a great kid, an honor student at UW-Stout. He had never been in a fight."
Gray said after Britton was suspended from UW-Stout, he attended St. Cloud State University in Minnesota.
Gray believes Britton would like to return to UW-Stout for school.
Britton played on the UW-Stout hockey team.
Gray also noted a bouncer testified to the wrong color of a hoodie he said Britton was wearing. That may also have been a factor in the verdict, he said.
The St. Croix County jury of seven men and five women deliberated for nearly seven hours before finding Britton not guilty.
Prior to the reading of the verdict, the Britton family sat together in the front row arm in arm. Some openly cried, wiping tears from their eyes.
After the verdict was read, they hugged with elation.
The Simon family looked stunned at the verdict before all leaving together.
Gray declined requests for interviews with the Britton family because of pending civil litigation by the Simon family.
Simon died from a traumatic brain injury on Sept. 23 after the bike hit a cement wall and he struck his head on Sept. 18.
Still facing charges in Simon's death is Jedidiah R. McGlasson, 22, Menomonie, a hockey recruit. He faces charges of party to the crime of felony murder and party to the crime of felony battery in the death of Simon.
Waiting for verdict, Simon's father, Phil Simon, said whatever the verdict there were no winners.
"We have a justice system and we need to have justice done," he said.
Phil Simon said his son lived more in 22 years than he himself did in his 52 years.
"I believe that his internal clock knew he would have a shorter life than most of us," Phil Simon said. "He had a knack for making friends with everybody. He was never in fights. All we have left is our memories. He was a great kid."
Phil Simon noted a lot has been made of his son's blood alcohol level of 0.22, but he pointed out his son was not driving a vehicle and doing nothing illegal.
Also, Phil Simon said, he does not believe that level makes sense given testimony was his son had 1 ½ drinks over two hours.
Simon had been accused of calling Britton a "queer," and another derogatory word about sexual identity, which were words Brad would not use, his father said.
During closing arguments, Dunn County District Attorney James Peterson — who was not available for comment following the verdict — said Simon was the target and, like a "pack of wolves," Britton and McGlasson went after him on Main Street when Simon was riding the bike he took.
"Just like a pack of wolves would go after a deer to knock it down," Peterson described their actions to the jury. "Jared and Jed were working together like hockey teammates converging on someone with a puck and checking them."
Joseph Kuehn, a bouncer at the Log Jam bar, where Britton and McGlasson were drinking prior to the incident, testified he saw Britton shove the bike.
Britton told authorities McGlasson pushed the bike, but only to keep Simon from hitting McGlasson.
Peterson argued even if McGlasson pushed the bike, Britton was angry at Simon after a disagreement in the bar over Britton not wearing a shirt under a hoodie.
"They were working together just like two wolves working together," Peterson said.
Gray pointed out Kuehn identified Britton as wearing a brown or dark gray sweater.
Holding up the hoodie, which has blue and white on the back, Gray pointed out this discrepancy to the jury.
"The back of the sweater is white," he noted, adding authorities didn't even keep it as evidence nor found out what McGlasson was wearing at the time of the crash.
Kuehn also said Simon hit his face on the wall. Yet, Gray said, Simon had no injuries and it was determined he struck the back of his head.
Gray noted it was early in the morning and dark with limited lighting in the area.
Gray also pointed out Simon started the argument over the hoodie.
Simon also took a bicycle with defective brakes that he had never ridden before, Gray noted. He pointed out the wall was located in a dangerous spot and difficult to see.
"These are college kids, not gangsters," Gray said. "They are out having a good time and a tragic event happens.
"Unfortunately it's a young man who made a lot of bad decisions and as a result of those decisions he died," Gray said of Simon. "It's terrible."
Simon received a brain injury when he was shoved or fell from a bike on in downtown Menomonie on Main Street near the Broadway Street intersection.
McGlasson, who is scheduled for trial in August, has never given a statement to police.
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