Today in court 76-year-old John Henry Spooner of Milwaukee was found guilty of fatally shooting 13-year-old Darius Simmons while the boy was taking out the trash. The verdict, which was reached after less than an hour of deliberation, should come as no surprise to anyone given the horrifying video evidence that was presented.
Captured on Spooner's security camera, it shows the confrontation that happened on a fateful morning in May 2012. According to CBS, Spooner thought the boy had broken into his home and stolen some weapons (None were ever found in Simmons' house.). You see them arguing, Spooner with a gun in his hand. Then, when he's just 6 feet away from the unarmed boy, you see Spooner aim the gun and shoot Simmons right in the chest.
Simmons' mother, Patricia Larry, was there watching the whole thing. She said she held her son in her arms as he died.
"I pulled his shirt up and I (saw) he had a bullet hole in his chest," Larry told the court. "He took one more breath and that's it." Just like that her son was gone. Killed in cold blood in broad daylight.
It's absolutely gruesome to watch, especially so on the heels of George Zimmerman's acquittal in the death of Trayvon Martin. While the two cases vary greatly in the details, the end result is painfully similar -- two innocent young black men whose lives were taken way too early by gun violence.
I'm refraining from publishing the video of the shooting here because it's so disturbing, but you can click through and watch at your own discretion. While he's quite obviously guilty, as the jury determined, there's still the question of Spooner's sentencing. A second trial will be held to determine if he was mentally ill at the time. The defense claims he was, and that he wasn't able to determine right from wrong at the time. They also claim he didn't mean for the gunshot to be fatal, which is extremely difficult to believe after watching that video.
Clearly something was wrong with Spooner to do something like this, but based on what's being reported, it sounds a lot more like a case of an ignorant, hateful man than someone who is truly mentally ill. And there's a difference.
Nothing will bring Darius Simmons back, but hopefully at least some justice will be served.
Do you think Spooner will be found mentally competent at the time of the shooting?
Image via Milwaukee County Sheriff