MILWAUKEE (AP) — A Milwaukee man’s own surveillance cameras show him confronting a 13-year-old neighbor boy on a sidewalk outside of their houses, pointing a gun at the teen and firing into his chest from a few feet away.
The wounded teen flees away from the cameras’ view and collapses in the street where his mother, according to her testimony, held him as he took his last breath.
The video was shown in court Tuesday as evidence in the trial of John Henry Spooner, who’s accused of gunning down Darius Simmons in May 2012 after accusing the teen of breaking into his home and stealing guns. Spooner, 76, is charged with first-degree intentional homicide.
In the surveillance footage, Spooner emerges from his house that morning and confronts Simmons. He points a gun at the boy, who quickly moves backward a few steps. Both Spooner and the teen direct their attention toward a porch at Simmons’ home, where Simmons’ mother is standing. Moments later, Spooner points the gun back at Simmons and fires twice.
Simmons’ mother, Patricia Larry, testified that Spooner warned her to call 911 and accused her son of burglarizing his home. She said Spooner told her son he’d teach him not to steal and fired once at the boy’s chest.
The teen turned and fled. The video shows Spooner appearing to fire a second shot. Then Larry runs past Spooner in pursuit of her son.
She testified that when she caught up to her son, who was lying on the ground by then, she could only feel a light pulse in his neck.
“Then I pulled his shirt up and I (saw) he had a bullet hole in his chest,” she said tearfully. “He took one more breath and that’s it.”
The defense has conceded that Spooner fired the fatal bullet at Simmons as they argued on the sidewalk. But defense attorney Franklyn Gimbel said the two issues for the jury to decide are whether Spooner intended to kill the boy, and whether Spooner was suffering from mental illness that prevented him from knowing right from wrong at the time.
Richard Martinez, one of the Milwaukee police officers who responded after the shooting, testified that Spooner offered an unsolicited confession upon his arrest. Martinez said he ordered Spooner at gunpoint to drop his weapon and Spooner bent down and laid his handgun on the ground.
Martinez testified that he was handcuffing Spooner when Spooner said, “Yeah, I shot him,” referring to the teen. Martinez said Spooner had another bullet in his pocket.
Martinez’s partner, Michael Urbaniak, testified that he and Martinez placed Spooner in the back of a squad car while they investigated the scene. While being detained, Spooner commented that he had reached his breaking point and that his house had been broken into two days earlier, Urbaniak said.