The elderly man who shot and killed a 13-year-old neighborhood teen point blank in the chest because he suspected him of stealing his guns has been sentenced to life in prison. Given that John Spooner is 76 years old and has major health issues, he will never see the light of day again except from a prison yard. I do feel sorry for an elderly man spending the rest of his life in a prison cell. But I feel much worse for 13-year-old Darius Simmons. The man killed him for nothing. I get that he thought the boy stole his guns -- but you can't go around shooting people because you think they did something. In fact, even if the kid had stolen his guns -- and there's no proof that he did -- you can't go around shooting people for it. Because Spooner was white and Simmons was a young black male, the case was compared to the Trayvon Martin case, but it was very different.
Lawyers tried to claim that Spooner was mentally ill, but the judge wasn't buying it. I think what Spooner has is a gray area -- someone whose mind might be slightly incapacitated due to the beginning stages of dementia, but who doesn't help himself by becoming embittered, paranoid, and angry in his old age.
The fact that he shot the kid right in front of his own surveillance cameras, which caught the whole thing on tape and was used to convict him, shows he was not totally thinking correctly -- on the other hand, he could have been massively entitled. He showed no remorse in court either, saying:
As far as being sorry, I don't know if I did right or wrong.
Yes, he still thinks what he did was okay -- because his mind believes that he was wronged, even if he wasn't. Not that possessions equal a life anyway!
I grew up around lots of old people, and if you are not very, very careful, you end up spending the last portion of your life hating everyone and everything and doing nothing but complaining and thinking the world and everyone in it are against you. This sounds like what Spooner became.
Yes, Spooner did have something unfair happen to him -- someone broke into his house and stole his guns. But at 76 years old, he should have known that life will throw you some unfair curveballs. It doesn't give you a right to end someone's life.
Additionally, it doesn't sound like this guy should have had guns to begin with. Guns and bad tempers and a sense of self-righteousness over every slight are a deadly combination.
Like I said, I do feel bad for Spooner. Having grown up with elderly people, I have a real soft spot for them, and I also have a greater than average understanding of their flaws and foibles.
But this is a good warning for us all: As you grow older, be constantly vigilant about what you are turning into.
Do you think Spooner's age had anything to do with his crime? Does he deserve to die in prison?
Image via Milwaukee County Sheriff's Office