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Despite advice from attorney not to, Spooner testifies in his trial

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MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- The trial for John Spooner, the 76-year-old man found guilty of first degree intentional homicide in the death of Darius Simmons was put on hold for a brief period Thursday, July 18th in order for Spooner to be evaluated to determine whether he was competent to proceed.

Just before 3:00 p.m., it was determined Spooner is competent to proceed with the trial, and proceedings were resumed.

Then, it was learned that despite advice from his attorney not to, Spooner would testify in his trial -- telling his story to the jury.

Spooner is accused of confronting 13-year-old 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.

On Wednesday, a jury ruled Spooner guilty of first degree intentional homicide. Then, the second phase of the trial began, in which the jury must determine whether Spooner suffers from a mental disease or defect -- essentially determining whether Spooner was competent at the time of the shooting.

On Thursday, Spooner took the stand, telling the jury he was victimized several times since 2008, with his home having been burglarized and his guns stolen. Police never made any arrests.

"When I had police investigate, they said no evidence. They knew at the time, they knew before they got there they were not going to do anything. I don't know why," Spooner said.

Spooner was questioned about whether he lost control on the morning of May 31st, 2012.

"I wanted those guns back so bad. I grabbed the pistol and put it in my pocket. Why then, I walked out and I remember I was 10 feet away. I pulled the pistol out -- pulled it on the kid, and I said 'I want my guns back,'" Spooner said.

The prosecution cross-examined him, and Spooner said he was very angry.

"I wouldn't call it revenge. I'd call it justice," Spooner said.

The jury reached its verdict Wednesday in phase one of the case, in part based on the powerful evidence from a video surveillance of the murder actually occurring. The images were captured on Spooner’s own camera at his south side Milwaukee home.

During the second phase of the trial, 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 10 out of 12 jurors need to agree.

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