After only two hours of deliberation, a jury Wednesday found John Henry Spooner, 76, guilty of the May 31, 2012 first-degree intentional homicide of 13-year-old Darius Simmons. During opening statements on Tuesday, July 16, 2013, the prosecution warned the jury, “The best piece of evidence you’re going to see is the murder. You’re going to actually see what the murder looks like in this case,” prosecutor Mark Williams said.
This evidence came via surveillance cameras Spooner installed at his house.
As previously reported by Clutch, Spooner accused 13-year-old Simmons of stealing three shotguns from his home. Spooner confronted the child as he was taking out the trash.
Patricia Larry, Simmons’ mother, witnessed the gruesome murder of her unarmed young son. She testified in court, “He told him he was going to teach him not to steal, and he shot him.”
Gimbel (Spooner’s attorney) conceded from the outset that his client shot Darius. However, he argued that Spooner did not intend for the gunshot to be fatal. The surveillance video provides a clear view of what happened. Spooner emerges from his house and confronts the teen, who is retrieving his family’s garbage cart from the street. Spooner points a gun at Darius, who quickly moves back a few steps.
Spooner then talks to Darius’ mother, who’s standing on her porch out of view of the camera, and Spooner briefly points the gun in her direction. Moments later, Spooner points the gun back at the boy standing a couple of feet in front of him. He fires, hitting Darius in the chest.
The second phase of the trial is now underway. Spooner’s attorney will use experts to try to prove Spooner was suffering from a mental disease or defect when the crime took place. The prosecution will call its own witnesses to show Spooner knew exactly what he was doing — and was just an angry man looking for someone to pay after his shotguns were stolen.
The jury does not have to be unanimous in its decision. Only ten out of 12 jurors need to agree.