Jury: Wis. Man Sane When He Killed Teen Neighbor

Source: Dinesh Ramde / AP / ABC News

A Milwaukee man knew exactly what he was doing when he accused his teenage neighbor of burglary and fired a bullet into the boy’s chest, a jury decided Friday, in a verdict that essentially guarantees 76-year-old John Henry Spooner will die behind bars.

The same jury concluded Wednesday that Spooner was guilty of first-degree intentional homicide. That verdict advanced the trial to a second phase in which the jurors were asked to determine whether he was mentally ill at the moment he pulled the trigger.

Two doctors testified Friday that Spooner has anger issues and aggressive impulses, but that he was neither delusional nor detached from reality when he killed 13-year-old Darius Simmons last year.

Spooner, who is white, never denied killing his unarmed, black neighbor. He testified that he believed Darius was among the burglars who had broken into his home two days earlier and stolen four shotguns that had deep sentimental value. He also testified that he wanted to kill Darius’ brother after the older boy ran into the street to help his dying brother. But Spooner didn’t fire because he feared he might endanger other people around them.

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