Criminal Justice

Senior found guilty of homicide for killing 13-year-old he thought stole his guns

A 76-year-old Milwaukee man accused of fatally shooting a teen-age neighbor has been convicted of intentional homicide in a case that once again had defense lawyers arguing that race was not a factor.

Jurors on Wednesday convicted John Spooner, who is white, for shooting his 13-year-old black neighbor, report the New York Times, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and the Associated Press. Prosecutors said Spooner thought the youth, Darius Simmons, had broken into his home and stolen his shotguns. Two days later, after police said there was not enough evidence to continue an investigation, Spooner confronted Simmons at his home, demanded the return of his guns, and shot the teen, prosecutors said. Police did not find any of Spooner’s guns in Simmons’ home.

The Times says the Spooner case has “some striking similarities” to the trial of George Zimmerman in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin, noting that the white defendant in the Milwaukee case tried to take the law into his own hands. Milwaukee has a history of racial tensions, the Times says, and many black residents distrust police and the legal process.

Spooner’s trial enters a new phase today as jurors consider whether Spooner was not guilty because of mental disease or defect.

Updated at 10:23 a.m. to change headline.

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