We hope and pray the jury gets it right this time! It’s been over a year since we first told you about the shooting death of 13-year-old Darius Simmons, but now that the trial of his alleged killer is set to start this week we are hopeful his family will see some justice at last.
A trial for a 76-year-old man accused of shooting to death his 13-year-old neighbor in front of his mother in Milwaukee is set to begin this week in a polarizing case that some say was misplaced vigilante justice.
A national field director for Rev. Jesse Jackson’s Rainbow PUSH Coalition said in Wisconsin last year that the shooting of Darius Simmons, 13, was “vigilantism and rogue police behavior” in a similar vein to the killing in Florida of Trayvon Martin, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported. George Zimmerman was acquitted in that case over the weekend.
Both cases involved an older man allegedly killing a black teen the shooter believed was suspicious.
In Milwaukee, police say John Henry Spooner shot Simmons, his next door neighbor, last May after accusing the boy of stealing $3,000 worth of guns from his home. The teen, who had lived with his mother next door to Spooner for only a month, was taking out the trash around 10:00 a.m. when Spooner accused the boy of the theft and demanded he return the shotguns. The boy told Spooner he had not stolen the guns and his mother, Patricia Larry, told the elderly man to go back inside.
Spooner then pulled out a handgun and shot Simmons in the chest from only five feet away, killing the boy.
“I condemn in the strongest words possible the murder of Darius Simmons,” Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett said after the shooting. “To have a boy who’s taking out the garbage at 10:30 in the morning murdered should shock the conscience of the state.”
Spooner allegedly told arriving officers “Yeah, I shot him.”
The elderly man allegedly complained to a local politician about being frustrated over the police response to his report of the theft. He’d been burglarized in the past, the Sentinel reported. The man was described as a good neighbor, but in December, 2006, police seized 16 guns from his home after he was accused of hosting a felon at his residence. The eight rifles, four shotguns and four handguns were later returned to Spooner.
He allegedly shot Simmons on May 31, 2012, in front of at least two witnesses. The trial has been twice delayed and was scheduled to begin Monday. His defense plans to claim Spooner is not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect. If convicted of first-degree intentional homicide, Spooner faces life in prison.
“My son, Darius Simmons, was shot and killed in front of me,” Larry, his mother, told the Sentinel in May after the trial was delayed for a second time. “It’s affected me, my friends, my work.”
At least in this case there are eyewitnesses and a confession. This guy had BETTER not walk!
Photo Credit: Meg Kissinger