ST. CLOUD (WJON News) -- The second of two men involved in a 2022 fatal shooting in south St. Cloud has now pleaded guilty.

44-year-old Alphonso Cotto has pleaded guilty to one count of 2nd-degree murder through an Alford Plea. An Alford Plea is where a defendant maintains they're innocent of the crime, but admits the prosecution has enough evidence to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. A charge of 1st-degree murder will be dismissed at sentencing.

Cotto and another man, 54-year-old Paul Coleman, were charged with the shooting death of 39-year-old Michael Batsche.

St. Cloud Police were called to a home in the 1200 block of 10th Avenue South on May 24th, 2022. Officers arrived to find a man lying on the floor by the back door with a gunshot wound to his head.

According to the criminal complaint, footage from the home's motion cameras showed the victim alone in the backyard before the shooting. Roughly ten minutes later the camera is activated again showing Coleman and Cotto near a detached garage facing the back door where the victim was found. Court records show Coleman could be seen holding what is believed to be a gun in his right hand. Coleman and Cotto are then seen running to a vehicle registered to Coleman.

Paul Coleman - Stearns County Jail
Paul Coleman - Stearns County Jail

Coleman pleaded guilty to aiding and abetting 2nd-degree murder at the beginning of March. As part of Coleman's plea agreement, he'll spend 16 years in prison when he is sentenced in May. He also agreed to testify at Cotto's trial before it was canceled.

Cotto will be sentenced on May 6th.




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