Trial Begins This Week in Murder of Darius Simmons

John Henry Spooner, left; Patricia Larry, right, holds a photo of her slain son, Darius Simmons
AP

In a case that bears some striking similarities to George Zimmerman's, a 76-year-old Milwaukee man is set to stand trial this week in the 2012 shooting death a 13-year-old boy he had accused of stealing from him.

Police say John Henry Spooner confronted Darius Simmons, who lived next door with his mother, as the teen took out the trash. Spooner, who is White, had suspected that Simmons, who was Black, stole $3,000 worth of shotguns from him, and demanded that the sixth-grader return them. Simmons denied stealing the guns, and his mother, Patricia Larry, told Spooner to go back inside. Instead, prosecutors say, Spooner pulled out a handgun and shot the 13-year-old in the chest from near-point blank range.

"When police arrived, Spooner was still on the sidewalk, holding the gun," according to the criminal complaint. "When told to drop the weapon, he placed it on the ground and told police, 'Yeah, I shot him.'"

An autopsy showed that Simmons, who was unarmed, suffered a gunshot wound to his torso, according to the Associated Press. Spooner was charged with first degree murder. He pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity. Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett condemned the killing. "To have a boy who's taking out the garbage at 10:30 in the morning murdered should shock the conscience of the state," Barrett said at the time.

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