Surveillance video submitted to a court on Tuesday showed a 76-year-old white Milwaukee man fatally shooting his 13-year-old black neighbor in the chest as the teen’s mother watched.
During opening statements in the trial for John Spooner, jurors saw video of 13-year-old Darius Simmons taking the trash bin in from the street on May 31, 2012. Spooner then confronts the teen on a sidewalk between their homes. He points a pistol at the teen, and then at the boy’s mother as she watches from the porch.
Seconds later, he points the gun back at Simmons’ chest and fires. The boy runs away and a second shot misses.
According to The Associated Press, Simmons’ mother, Patricia Larry, testified the jury that Spooner had told her to call 9-1-1 and that he was going to teach the boy a lesson for stealing.
At the time of the shooting, Spooner explained to police that some shotguns and other items had been stolen from his home and he believed Simmons was to blame.
He admitted shooting the teen, but said that he was at a breaking point after having a lung removed due to cancer, losing his wife, being beaten and burglarized.
The defense is expected to argue that Spooner had a mental illness and did not know right from wrong at the time of the shooting. His lawyer has said that evidence will show that he did not mean to kill Simmons.
In phase one of the trial, the jury will be asked to decide if Spooner murdered Simmons. If Spooner is found to be guilty of murder, a second phase will determine if he was suffering from a mental defect at the time of the shooting.
UPDATE: After deliberating for less than two hours, the jury returned a verdict on Wednesday afternoon saying that Spooner is guilty of intentional homicide. The jurors left the courtroom to deliberate at 11:20 a.m. on Wednesday and handed their verdict to the judge at 1:10 p.m.. The verdict was read to the court 40 minutes later.
According to Wisconsin law, Intentional Homicide is a separate and distinct charge from felony murder. Wisconsin statute 940.01 defines first degree intentional homicide as “an act committed by any person causing the death of another person with the intent to kill that person or another person.” It is a Class A felony with a maximum sentence of life in prison. Felony murder is defined as homicide in the commission of another felony.
Watch this video from WTMJ, broadcast July 16, 2013.
Watch this video from WITI, broadcast July 16, 2013.