Oakdale man charged in St. Paul homicide

An Oakdale man is facing murder charges in connection to the death of a man found near a downtown St. Paul loading dock on Sunday.

St. Paul police found the body of 33-year-old Deondrae R. Atkins just after 2 a.m. Sunday along the 200 block of West Ninth Street.

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Court documents state that people who knew Atkins told officers that his red Saturn Aura was missing. They added that Atkins had fentanyl, never got out of his car, and rarely let anyone inside it.

Surveillance video showed Atkins parking his car in the area shortly after 10 p.m. the night before, and people approached and engaged with him for short periods of time. At about 12:15 a.m., a Dodge Journey parked behind Atkins’ Saturn.

According to court documents, a man got out of the Dodge’s passenger seat shortly before 1 a.m., waited for two other men and then apparently talked to Atkins before returning to the Dodge. He got out again at around 1:28 a.m. along with the Dodge’s driver and walked up to Atkins.

A criminal complaint states the driver of the Dodge—identified as 32-year-old Jesse Willis Gleeson—then tried to open the driver’s side doors of the Saturn. While doing that, officers noted Gleeson flinched as if he’d heard a gunshot. Right afterward, Atkins got out of the Saturn, hunched over and walked away. Gleeson then got back into the Dodge and drove away while the other man drove away in Atkins’ Saturn.

Officers were able to follow the Dodge’s route to an apartment in Oakdale. They then executed a search warrant at an apartment there and arrested Gleeson on Wednesday. They also found the pants he’d apparently worn during the murder.

In an interview with officers, Gleeson claimed he hadn’t been in the area where Atkins was found in months. However, when confronted with evidence, the complaint states that Gleeson said he was with a man he knew as “Skee” and claimed they were buying marijuana.

After they drove off, Gleeson said he caught up with Skee, who “started talking crazy” and said he’d shot Atkins in the leg and then stole his car. However, Gleeson denied trying to rob Atkins, although he didn’t have an explanation for why they waited 90 minutes after parking near Atkins to buy weed from him.

The complaint adds that police identified the shooter and Gleeson confirmed that was Skee.

Gleeson is charged with two counts of second-degree murder in connection to the shooting. He made his first court appearance Friday morning and has his next hearing set for Monday.

As of Friday, police hadn’t announced any additional arrests and Skee wasn’t named in the court documents.