Wisconsin Firefighter Sentenced for College Student's Death

Investigators said Matthew Marcus Kispert threw the punch after Sheppard made derogatory remarks about firefighters.


DURANGO, Colo. --

A firefighter from Wisconsin who caused the death of a Fort Lewis College student has been sentenced to 90 days in jail for the crime.

Matthew Marcus Kispert, 24, of De Pere, Wis., was in court Monday and was immediately taken into custody to begin serving his sentence.

Kispert, punched Jonathan Parker Sheppard, 24, in the face at about 2:30 a.m. on Oct. 28 in a Durango parking lot.

Sheppardfell backward and hit his head on the asphalt. He died Nov. 15 when he was taken off life support at Swedish Medical Center in Denver.

Investigators said Kispert threw the punch after Sheppard made derogatory remarks about firefighters. Kispert was in Durango with other firefighters for a reunion.

After Sheppard was knocked unconscious, Kispert and fellow firefighters carried him to their nearby motel room and then called 911. They then told police that they had found Sheppard injured. Upon further questioning, Kispert admitted punching Sheppard.

An investigation revealed that both Kispert and Sheppard had been drinking, although no blood-alcohol testing was done by police.

Before he was sentenced, Kispert apologized to Sheppard's family and friends.

The 90-day sentence was the recommendation of the county probation department. In addition to the jail time, Kispert must serve 250 hours of community service, stay employed and pay restitution to the victim's family.

Sheppard was a mathematics major at Fort Lewis College. Kispert is a firefighter with the U.S. Forest Service.