John Henry Spooner (pictured left), the 76-year-old Milwaukee man who gunned down his 13-year-old neighbor after accusing him of stealing his shotguns, was sentenced to life in prison without parole Monday, according to the Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel.
Darius Simmons was retrieving a garbage can from the curb last May when Spooner approached and accused him of stealing four shotguns from his house. When Simmons denied involvement, and his mother warned him to leave her son alone, Spooner fatally shot the teen in the chest. Police searched Simmons’ home, but found no guns.
Spooner’s sentencing came after two phases: a guilt phase and an insanity plea he introduced. A jury found him guilty of first-degree intentional homicide and rejected his insanity defense in fewer than 15 minutes. In a appalling display, Spooner took the stand last Thursday and told the courtroom he considered the murder “justice.” He also implied that Darius was a misguided youth.
“I feel sorry for Darius. He had nobody who loved him enough to teach him to go straight,” Spooner said. During the trial, he even went as far as to say that Simmons’ mother instructed him to rob a “sick, old man,”
“May God forgive you, Ms.[Patricia] Larry (pictured right), for your lying and cheating and stealing,” he said. “I don’t know if I did right or wrong. The jury didn’t tell me. Nobody told me.”
“You did wrong. You took the life of a child,” Milwaukee County Circuit Judge Jeffrey A. Wagner responded.
“It was an evil act,” he added. “That family is left without the love of their child. (Simmons) will never be able to experience childhood, to go through high school …to go to college, to get married, to have children. You took that all away from him.”
Assistant District Attorney Mark Williams asked Wanger to impose the maximum sentence for the shooting.
“He’s going to die in prison with murderers and rapists, and that’s the choice he made,” Williams said. “He believed what he did was right, and that’s what makes him so dangerous.”
Larry, however, seemed more merciful towards Spooner Monday, saying she had “no hate for this man,” and that she would pray for him. However, she still wanted Spooner “to be held accountable for what he did to (her) son Darius Simmons”
“No mother should have to go through this,” she said.