Yesterday, John Henry Spooner was found guilty of first-degree intentional homicide in the shooting death of 13-year-old Darius Simmons. Spooner, 76, shot and killed Simmons in front of their Milwaukee, Wisc. homes last May while his mother watched. A jury will now decide whether or not Hooper was in the right state of mind when he committed the crime.
Simmons' mother testified that Spooner accused her son of stealing weapons from his home, and that that he would teach Simmons a lesson before shooting him. Surveillance video from Spooner's home captured the entire incident, including Simmons running out of the camera's view after being shot, then dying in his mother's arms.
Spooner pleaded not guilty and not guilty by reason of mental disease and defect. The trial will be split into the two phases, the first of which is complete now that he's been convicted. The second phase will determine if Spooner was mentally ill when he killed Simmons. Dr. Basil Jackson, a psychiatrist hired by the defense, testified that Hooper suffered from anger problems and was detached from reality at times.
According to Jackson, Spooner's daughter once bought home a cat. Deciding he didn't want the cat, he took it in the basement and killed it. He also testified that Hooper abused his late wife.
Spooner's attorney, Franklyn Gimbel, argued that his client did not intend for the gunshot to be fatal. "It's not a question of whether the behaviors of John Spooner caused the death of the young man – but what motivated it and what went on in his mind at the time is the crucial question."
During the selection process, potential jurors were reportedly asked to provide their thoughts on the George Zimmerman trial and racial issues. The jury delibertated for an hour before reaching the first verdict. For the second part of the trial, the defense will have to provide "clear and convincing evidence" that Hooper was unaware of what he was doing. The verdict will only require 10 jurors to agree, as opposed to all 12.
[via The Huffington Post]