Britton found not guilty of felony murder

By: Kelly Schlicht, Megan Peterson, Andrew Fefer, Chris Baylor Email
By: Kelly Schlicht, Megan Peterson, Andrew Fefer, Chris Baylor Email

(WEAU) -- Jared Britton was on trial for pushing Bradley Simon off a bike and killing him outside a Menomonie bar last fall.

But after more than seven hours of deliberating in St. Croix County, the jury came back with their verdict and found him not guilty.

“I argued and I believe that the state failed miserably on both of those to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that my client was a murderer. He didn’t have criminal intent that night. This was nothing more than a freak terrible accident,” says Britton’s attorney Earl Gray.

23-year-old Britton was accused of killing 22-year-old Simon last September by pushing him off of his bike, causing massive head trauma which he later died from.

The courtroom was filled with both hugs and tears after the verdict was read.

Dunn County District Attorney Jim Peterson says this was a very difficult case for any jury.

“We really feel for the family in this case and I think it is also important for people to realize how dangerous it can be to engage in violence like this,” says Peterson.

Gray says the jury’s verdict was a relief for his client.

“It was a relief for the Britton family; it was a relief for me. It’s incredibly difficult to represent somebody who you know is innocent and who you really like,” says Gray.

Before the verdict was read, Simon's father told us there are no winners in this case, because his son cannot be brought back. Britton had no comment after the verdict.

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BREAKING NEWS: The jury has reached a verdict in the trial for Jared Britton. A St. Croix County jury decided the former UW-Stout hockey player is not guilty of being party to the crime of felony murder. The jury got the case at 12:30 Friday. Britton is accused of killing 22-year-old Bradley Simon outside a Menomonie bar last fall. Stay tuned to weau.com and WEAU 13 News at 10 for reaction to the verdict.
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Friday Afternoon Update:

HUDSON (WEAU)-- The jury in the Jared Britton trial has been deliberating since shortly before one Friday afternoon. Earlier, the prosecution and defense presented their closing arguments. Both sides called the other's case not credible.

The prosecution started its closing arguments by stating basic facts.

“First of all, there is no question a person, Brad Simon, he lost his life in this case, he died. His death occurred as a result of this particular incident. I don't think anybody can dispute that,” says Dunn County District Attorney Jim Peterson. “Second, nobody is going to dispute that Brad Simon lost his life as a result of his bicycle hit the wall, and falling and suffering a traumatic brain injury.”

But then both sides quickly came at one another with attacks to what actually may have happened the night Simon fell off a bike and hit this wall.

“Somebody who saw this knows that Jared and Jed were working together like teammates. Like hockey teammates, converging on someone with a puck to check them,” says Peterson.

The district attorney used the image of a wolf pack to describe Britton and his hockey teammates that night. But the defense says Britton, and Jed McGlasson, who is awaiting his own trial in connection to this incident, acted in self-defense.

“These are college kids. They aren't gangsters. They're out having a good time, and a tragic accident happened. What they did wasn't a crime. The bike's coming at you and Jed shoved him out of the way. What are you going to do, ladies and gentlemen, let the guy run you over?

The defense says Simon was drunk and provoking Britton the night Simon fell off the bike and fatally hit his head.

“All the evidence shows that Simon wasn't backing down. He was adding fuel to the fire,” says Defense Attorney Earl Gray, of the heated conversations Simon, Britton and others had at the bar the Log Jam, just before the incident.

The prosecution says despite Simon’s actions, Britton is still at fault for his death.

“He [Simon] made a lot of bad decisions, but he didn't deserve to be killed,” says Peterson.

The defense says a bouncer from a bar wasn't a credible eyewitness because he misidentified a few things in his testimony, including the color of a person’s shirt that he saw at a distance in the darkened street that night.

“There’s no way JD Kuehn saw anything that you can believe beyond a reasonable doubt. There's just no way,” says Gray.

The prosecution says witnesses—Even credible witnesses—Make mistakes, and that Kuehn’s testimony is still worth note.

“It’s just ridiculous. Please don't buy into this ridiculous argument. It's not true,” says Peterson.

After the jury went into deliberations, the defense motioned for a mistrial, saying that in the prosecution's closing arguments, the Peterson said "he is guilty" and did not back that statement up based on evidence. The judge denied that motion, saying that the guilt based on evidence was implied.

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HUDSON (WEAU) -- Jurors in the Jared Britton trial have started deliberating.

They received the case around 12:30 p.m. Friday.

We will update this story when the jury has a verdict. We'll also have updates tonight on WEAU 13 News at 5 and 6.

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Day 4 is underway in the Jared Britton murder trial. Closing arguments have started. We'll have more on this story right here on our website, and on later newscasts.

You can follow WEAU's Kelly Schlicht right now on Twitter and Facebook for up to the minute updates from the courtroom.

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Thursday Afternoon Update:

As a hockey teammate of Jared Britton's took the stand this morning, he says Bradley Simon as the one being aggressive in a bar last September.

Former stout hockey player Eric Scovill says he had to break up heated conversations between Brad Simon and several other hockey teammates, including Jared Britton.

“Brad was obviously very drunk,” says Scovill. “And I've played peacekeeper before, in situations like these throughout my life. I could see he was intoxicated and you needed to handle him in a different way.”

Scovill says bouncers got involved and escorted the hockey players out of the bar after one of them knocked a drink out of Simon’s hand, but says Britton wasn't involved in that scuffle.

“The bouncer JD stepped in. Garrett (Grimstad, another hockey teammate) offered to buy Brad Simon a drink. Brad said no, it had to be Ryan Sullivan who bought a drink,” says Scovill, saying Sullivan was the one who knocked the drink from Simon’s hand.

Scovill described Simon as being cool-headed enough to stay seated during some of the angry exchanges. As they left the bar that night, Scovill says Britton had been drinking, but didn't seem overly intoxicated.

“I would say Jared was intoxicated, but not at a point where he was out of control of his actions or at a point where he wouldn't remember what was happening, or at a point that he would be acting different than the Jared Britton I had known up until that point,” says Scovill

During cross-examination, the prosecution asked if Scovill was covering for his old teammate, which Scovill denies.

Thursday Morning Update:

As the defense continues its case, former UW-Stout Athletic Director Joseph Krier and former hockey player Eric Scovill take the stand this morning.

Krier testified he met with Jared Britton the morning after the incident happened. He says he encouraged Britton to go to the police again after Britton said he "wasn't telling the truth" about what had happened.

Krier says Britton told him that Jedidiah McGlasson was the one who pushed Simon.

Scovill, 24, described the night of bar-hopping he had with his hockey team mates and other friends, in which the group had a confrontation with Bradley Simon at a bar called the Log Jam.

Scovill says Britton told him in the restroom that night that Simon "wanted to start a fight with him," but that Britton "didn't want to fight, didn't want to get kicked off of the hockey team."

Scovill says several of the hockey players had tense discussions with Simon and Simon's friends in the bar, but Britton did not get involved with Simon inside the bar. Bouncers then escorted Britton, Scovill, and the other hockey players out of the bar.

Follow the story as it happens on Twitter: Our reporters covering trial Thursday are @WEAUSchlicht & @WEAUBaylor.

Wednesday Evening Update:

HUDSON (WEAU) - It was an emotional Wednesday on the stand during the murder trial for former University of Wisconsin Stout hockey player, Jared Britton. He's accused of killing 22-year-old Bradley Simon outside a Menomonie bar last fall.

One of Simon's childhood friends, who was with him the night he died, took the stand. It was nearly ten months ago when Joe Scanlin was visiting his long time friend Brad Simon in Menomonie.

"Brad was my best friend. I visited him once a month when school started," says Scanlin.

He says they went out to the bars that night and when a verbal argument started between his friend and a few stout hockey players, he tried to break up the fight.

"I tried saying hey this is my best friend what ever happened, happened, can we just carry on with our nights. It's not worth wasting any of our nights," says Scanlin.

He says sometime after the argument they decided to leave the bar while trying to avoid the hockey players. He says he never saw how his best friend hit his head while riding his bike.

“I looped back around and met up with Jackie and that's where we saw brad laying in the street," Scanlin said while fighting back tears from the stand.

23-year-old Jared Britton is on trial for of being a party to the crime of felony murder in the death of Simon. 22-year-old Jedidiah McGlasson faces charges and is awaiting trial. In court several people testified Britton said McGlasson pushed Simon off of his bike not him.

"It's always tougher to run two cases. This is a type of case we couldn't do together because of some statements they have made," said the Dunn County District Attorney, Jim Peterson after court.

Peterson rested the state's case Wednesday afternoon allowing the defense to call its first witness, Britton's hockey coach, Terry Watkins.

"He told me a little bit about what happened outside the bar. He said that there was a bike and a young man had fallen off the bike then he said the police came at about three in the morning and he hadn't been totally truthful. I said get up and go see the Stout staff then go see the police and tell them the truth. Then call me once that's all happened," says UW-Stout Hockey Coach, Terry Watkins.

We'll have crews back in the courtroom all day Thursday and bring you the latest on WEAU 13 News at 5, 6 and 10. Also right here on www.weau.com.
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HUDSON (WEAU) - At the end of Day 2 of the Jared Britton trial the state rests its case.

The eye witness who made the 911 call after the incident that left a UW-Stout student dead says he saw Jared Britton shove Brad Simon.

In St. Croix County court on Wednesday, J.D. Kuehn described where he was standing and what he saw in the early morning hours of September 18th.

Surveillance video played in court shows Brad Simon leaving the Log Jam tavern in Menomonie on September 18th.

J.D. Kuehn was a bouncer working at the bar that night. He explained to the jury that he had kicked someone out of the bar because of tension between Brad Simon and a group of some hockey players.

"Policy is to kick out the more aggressive of the two parties. So I was telling Brad to stay where he was until we dealt with the other parties,” Kuehn said.

“Did he stay there?” the defense attorney asked.

“No,” he said.

Kuehn says a short time later he followed a group to the corner of Broadway and Main. He testified he was following Jared Britton and saw the incident happen.

"I saw Jared sprint towards Brad and as he got close to him I saw Jared shove Brad," Kuehn explained.

Up above the scene of the incident, a photographer was working in his studio. He told jurors he heard a crash and then loud voices yelling. He looked out the window to see a man standing over Simon who was lying on the ground.

"The best way I could characterize it is as if he had been in a boxing match and someone was knocked on the ground. It wasn't a friendly posture," Jim D’Angelo said.

The doctor who performed the autopsy on Simon took the stand. He told jurors the cause of death of Brad Simon.

"Traumatic head injuries due to a fall due to physical altercation with another person," Dr. Victor Froloff of Ramsey County said.
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DAY ONE-AFTERNOON (JULY 5TH):

HUDSON (WEAU) - The prosecution calls a mutual friend and a bouncer to the stand in hopes of proving that a former hockey player had a role in the death of another student last September.

Jared Britton, 23, of Maplewood, Minnesota is accused of being a party to the crime of Felony Murder in the death of Bradley Simon, 22, in Menomonie. His trial was moved to St. Croix County from Dunn County.

Jedidiah McGlasson, 22, of Rio is also charged in the case. His trial is scheduled to start next month.

Tuesday morning, District Attorney Jim Peterson told the court Britton and McGlasson ran at Simon, almost forming a triangle that ended where Simon was.

"Evidence will show that the defendant and his friends were looking for Brad Simon after they left the bar,” Peterson said.

The bike Simon was riding smacked the wall. Simon hit his head, and he later died.

"If they caused the crash and they caused the death and they intended to harm him when they caused the crash, then they're guilty of Felony Murder."

Britton's lawyer says Simon was drunk, riding a stolen bike with no back brakes, if any, but that he never lost control of the bike.

“Freak accident,” defense attorney Earl Gray told the court. “How is anyone going to see that wall there? But there's no crime here.”

Gray says the bike came at McGlasson, who shoved it away.

"When a bike is coming at you and you push it away that does not prove bodily harm."

Later, a woman who knew Simon and Britton testified that she had tried to stop the argument from escalating after Britton told her that Simon had said something about his shirt.

“He didn't like the comment and that Brad needed to learn a lesson,” Jacquelyn Holmes said during her testimony.

Joseph Kuehn, who was a bouncer that night, told the court that he broke up the argument. He said he saw Simon riding the bike, and saw Britton shove Simon from behind, causing him to veer off course.

The trial is expected to last through Friday.

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DAY ONE (MORNING/EARLY AFTERNOON)

HUDSON (WEAU) - A St. Croix County jury will decide the fate of 23-year-old Jared Britton, the former UW-Stout hockey player charged with felony murder and aggravated battery in the death of Brad Simon.

Tension began at the Log Jam Tavern when the defense says Brad Simon made a comment about Jared Brittons outfit. He was wearing a zip up sweatshirt with no shirt.

“While Britton was walking to the back to go to the bathroom, Brad Simon stopped him, unzipped his sweatshirt and told him to put a shirt on," Defense Attorney Earl Gray said.

Later when Simon left the bar, prosecutors say he got on a bike and rode down the street. District Attorney James Peterson says Jared Britton and Jed McGlasson ran after Simon.

“Evidence will show that Jared Britton wanted to teach Brad Simon a lesson," Dunn County District Attorney James Peterson explained.

"The substantial factor was that he caused his death himself. It was a freak accident caused by himself," Gray said.

The prosecution is looking to prove Brad Simon died as a result of bodily harm when he was shoved off his bike into a concrete wall. The defense though says Simon died when the bike, that he had control of, and that was traveling fast, hit the wall.

“No matter who pushed him, Brad Simon regained control of the bike and he hit that wall. He hit with such force that it bent the bike, he flew off and died of a traumatic brain injury,” Gray continued.

“He saw Britton hit him like a check, like a hockey check or a football push. As a result, Simon veered to his left and the bike went into a wall, and he crashed to the right and hit his head and never regained consciousness," Peterson countered.

Menomonie Police Officers took the stand to describe what they saw and did at the scene in the early morning hours of September 18th.

The prosecution says it expects to call a number of witnesses to the stand.

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BACKGROUND STORY
Starting Tuesday morning at 8:30 at St. Croix County Court, one of two UW-Stout hockey players accused of killing a fellow college student is heading to trial.

23-year-old Jared Britton is accused of killing 22-year-old Bradley Simon who died from a severe head injury after he hit his head on a concrete wall.

Nearly 10 months ago, Britton and 22-year-old McGlasson were charged with felony murder-party to a crime, in the death of 22-year-old Bradley Simon of Waunakee.

Menomonie Police Officers say Britton and McGlasson argued with Simon inside the Log Jam Tavern in Menomonie on September 18th.

After Simon left, officers say the two assaulted him and caused him and the bicycle he was riding to crash into the wall.

Back in December, the Dunn Co. District Attorney James Peterson called four witnesses to the stand, including a bar bouncer who said he saw the attack.

"Brad flew over the bike handles. His face hit the wall first and he fell straight down to his right," says Joseph Kuehn.

A UW-Stout assistant vice chancellor said Britton told him it was McGlasson who did the shoving.

"Mr. Britton was very clear in the fact that he did not touch Brad Simon, that it was Jed McGlasson," says vice chancellor Philip Lyons.

Peterson said regardless of who pushed Simon off his bike after he left the bar, both McGlasson and Britton are equally guilty.

"From my perspective, I believe that they both acted together, so whether one pushed or the other pushed, to me ultimately the result is they're working together, the young man goes down, he ends up losing his life," says Peterson.

The two pleaded not guilty in Dunn County Court to the charges.


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