Man guilty of killing teen neighbor
By The Associated Press
Published: Wednesday, July 17, 2013, 9:06 p.m.
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.
- Kansas public school funding unconstitutional
- ‘Holy grail of guitars’ for sale in April auction
- Nuke plant safety improving, watchdog says — with cautions
- Deputy accused of illegal stops
- Border Patrol ordered to stop shooting at vehicles
- Miranda read to sex assault accuser, 14
- California man named as bitcoin creator denies involvement
- Accuser takes stand during court-martial
- El Nino could bring relief to U.S.
- ‘Senior officers should not do that,’ Army leader says in pleading guilty to misconduct charges
- Former National Security Agency contractor Snowden’s leaks to cost billions, take years to fix