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Surveillance video from John Spooner’s home shown in court

MILWAUKEE (WITI) — Opening statements began Tuesday, July 16th in the trial for 76-year-old John Spooner. Spooner is accused in the shooting death of 13-year-old Darius Simmons.

In court on Tuesday, surveillance video was shown, allowing jurors to see the incident as it happened.

The state alleges Spooner shot and killed Darius Simmons on May 31st, 2012 while Simmons’ mother watched.

Spooner is accused of confronting Simmons as he was taking out the trash.

Spooner reported his home was burglarized and items were taken — including some shotguns. Officials say Spooner reportedly believed his next-door neighbor, Simmons, was to blame. 

The surveillance video was captured by cameras mounted on Spooner’s own home.

Spooner told police on the day of the shooting that in recent years, he was beaten, had a lung removed due to cancer, lost his wife, and his house had just been burglarized, with four of his shotguns having been stolen. Spooner said at the time, he was at his breaking point.

Surveillance video shows Spooner’s neighbor, Simmons coming outside to take in a garbage cart in the morning of May 31st.

Spooner believed Simmons stole his guns, and confronted him, pointing a pistol at the boy. The two have a brief confrontation before Spooner fires twice at close range, killing Simmons.

Witnesses, from neighbors to the garbage man also saw it happen. 

Milwaukee Alderman Bob Donovan testified he spoke with Spooner before the murder, running into him at a restaurant. Spooner told him he was not happy with the police investigation into his burglary.

“To the best of my knowledge, John said there were other ways of dealing with situations like this,” Alderman Donovan said.

In opening statements, the prosecution explained the two steps of the trial. One, jurors will decide if Spooner murdered Simmons. If yes, they will decide whether he suffers from a mental disease or defect.

Spooner’s lawyer says they will show there was no intent to kill the boy.

The jury make up came up in court Tuesday, with the prosecution expressing concerns that only one African-American is on the panel. The defense explained they were stricken for other reasons — not race. 

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