Man guilty of killing teen neighbor
MILWAUKEE — A Milwaukee man who suspected his 13-year-old neighbor of breaking into his home and stealing weapons was convicted on Wednesday of fatally shooting the boy as the teen's mother looked on. Now, jurors will decide whether the 76-year-old defendant was mentally ill at the time.
A jury deliberated for about an hour before finding John Henry Spooner guilty of first-degree intentional homicide. Surveillance video from his own security cameras showed him confronting Darius Simmons in May 2012, pointing a gun at him from about 6 feet away and shooting him in the chest.
Spooner had entered two pleas to the homicide charge: not guilty and not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect. That set up the trial to be conducted in two phases: the first to determine whether he was guilty of the homicide, and if so, a second to determine whether he was mentally competent at the time.
With the first phase complete, the second began with testimony from a psychiatrist hired by the defense. Dr. Basil Jackson said his examination of Spooner revealed a man with anger issues who periodically dissociated from reality.
Spooner's daughter once brought home a kitten that he didn't want so he took it into the basement and killed it, Jackson said. Spooner also used to choke and beat his late wife, the doctor testified.
The violence shows Spooner occasionally loses the ability to control his anger — as during the moments when he shot Darius, Jackson said.
“There was an eruption, a loss of control. And at that moment he was not able — at that moment — to make a judgment,” Jackson said. “It's like he was on autopilot.”
Spooner's defense attorney, Franklyn Gimbel, never denied that his client shot Darius. Instead, he argued that Spooner did not mean for the gunshot to be fatal.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Gray wolf decision reversed
- Ghostly snailfish found at record depth
- Traffic camera use upheld in Ohio
- FBI’s 2001 anthrax attack investigation questioned
- Bush officials gave CIA wide latitude on interrogation tactics
- Traffic deaths down 3 percent
- Supreme Court won’t stop gay marriages in Florida
- Replacement part beamed up to space station
- West Virginia man dies after being shot with arrow in Wellsburg
- U.S., Cuba patching torn relations with historic accord
- Congress’ legacy: Way worse than ‘do-nothing’ one of 1947-48