John Spooner RESPONSIBLE! Not insane.
“John Spooner trial: We NOW have a verdict in the 2nd part of the trial. JUSTICE has been delivered in WISCONSIN!
New article posted on Milwaukee Journal Sentinel website, "Jury rejects John Spooner's insanity plea." Read the whole article NOW.
Believe it or not! I too was STUNNED by John Spooner’s statement as a witness on his own behalf during the 2nd part of his trial for shooting Darius Simmons on the street in front of Darius’ own home in Milwaukee! “JUSTICE?!”
NOW, I think the major issue is whether or not the JURY will deliver TRUE JUSTICE for Darius Simmons by finding JOHN SPOONER totally & fully RESPONSIBLE for his vigilante style “justice”!
I urge you to read the follow-up article by Isaac Stanley-Becker posted late last night and published today by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, “John Spooner: 'I wouldn't call it revenge; I would call it justice.”
I would note that the Associated Press release of the basic article is published on page 5A of today’s Janesville Gazette. I am NOT allowed to provide a link to that article, so I provide the link to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel publication. IF you are a subscriber, YOU have access to the e-edition of the Gazette.
I have been asking, “Will JUSTICE be delivered in WI trial…?” NOW the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has a survey online asking “Do you think justice will be served in the John Henry Spooner case?” When I checked the current results of this unscientific survey this morning, the current voting was 74% yes and 26% no with only 126 votes.
Stanley-Becker captured the environment in the Milwaukee courtroom yesterday as he opened his feature article, “John Henry Spooner, 76, told a stunned courtroom Thursday that justice was served when he shot and killed his 13-year-old neighbor.
The report continues, “If his gun hadn't jammed, Spooner said, he would have shot Darius Simmons' brother, too. I wouldn’t call it revenge; I would call it justice," Spooner said to audible gasps from the courtroom gallery, where Simmons' mother, Patricia Larry, sat watching with friends and religious leaders. Larry testified Tuesday that she watched from her front porch as Spooner gunned down her son, who bled to death in her arms moments later.”
Read the whole article to gain information and perspective.
"Something snapped," Spooner recalled from the stand Thursday, describing his certainty that his neighbors — Simmons and his 18-year-old brother, Theodore Larry — had burglarized his home and stolen four of his shotguns two days before he confronted his teenage neighbor.
Convicted Wednesday of first-degree intentional homicide for fatally shooting Simmons, Spooner took the witness stand Thursday afternoon to testify in his own defense in the insanity portion of his trial. Depending on a Milwaukee County jury's verdict, which is expected Friday, Spooner will face either life in prison or life in a mental institution. Spooner testified that he was overcome with anger when he loaded his gun on the morning of May 31, 2012, and shot Simmons, who was wheeling a garbage can from the sidewalk back to his house. Confronted by Spooner, the teen told him he had not taken the guns.
"I wanted those shotguns back. They were a big part of my life," Spooner said. "If what I did was in cold blood, what do you think about these kids robbing a sick old man?"
His attorney, Franklyn Gimbel, asked: "Did you intend to kill Darius Simmons?"
"I don't know," Spooner replied. "I was going after something important, and it was mine. What more can I say?"
Police searched Simmons' home after the shooting and found none of the guns Spooner said were missing.
Thursday morning, Gimbel tried to convince his client not to take the stand. When Circuit Judge Jeffrey A. Wagner asked Spooner — as he did the day before — whether he would again waive his right to testify, Spooner said he wanted to address the jury in a 15-minute statement. Wagner told him he did not have the right to do so.
After a private conversation with Spooner, Gimbel said his client was "not competent to proceed further" with the trial, as the insanity portion of the trial had "triggered a reaction" from his client, akin to the period of time during which he shot Simmons, Gimbel told the judge.
Psychiatrist John Pankiewicz examined Spooner during a court recess and then testified that he "did not lack substantial mental capacity to understand the charges against him or to assist in his own defense." When the court reconvened, Spooner chose to testify.
I would assert that Spooner is MORE RATIONALE and AWARE than his defense attorney Gimbel wants him to be! Note the following report in the article, “After that testimony, Gimbel said outside the courtroom that he disagreed with Pankiewicz's assessment and that his client became noncompliant after he ‘lost confidence in (Gimbel's) representation of him.’” What he really means is that SPOONER knows the TRUTH and has testified the TRUTH. His attorney wanted to prevent SPOONER from testifying the TRUTH!
YES, SPOONER is totally rational and aware! He is FULLY RESPONSIBLE for his first degree intentional murder of Darius Simmons! Now the question is, “Will the JURY deliver JUSTICE with its verdict?” I hope so. What do YOU expect?
NOW comes the REAL ISSUE of the CONFLICT OF INTEREST involving defense attorney Gimbel and Judge Wagner which I cited from Daniel Bice’s “No Quarter” column yesterday. NOTE the report, “Wagner denied the request for a directed verdict and instead asked the prosecution to call its next witness, Deborah Collins, a psychologist and director of the Wisconsin Forensic Unit.” WHY?
The following testimony is significant, “Collins' testimony came one day after psychiatrist Basil Jackson testified for the defense that Spooner's outburst was the product of his ‘hyper-manic personality.’ Collins, in turn, testified that she did not believe Simmons has ever suffered from a mental disease.”
Under cross-examination by Gimbel, Collins is reported to have testified, “Though he was ‘seething in anger,’ Spooner was sufficiently capable of appreciating the wrongfulness of his conduct and of conforming that conduct to the requirements of the law.”
AND NOW, the trial continues today with a court appointed psychiatrist scheduled to testify before Williams and Gimbel deliver closing statements. Then the case goes to the jury. The article notes, “Unlike on the homicide, which required a unanimous verdict, just 10 of the 12 jurors must agree on the insanity plea to reach a decision.”
I shall be checking regularly to learn the VERDICT knowing that the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has been updating its reports online regularly. If you want to check that website, here is the link, “Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.”
Here we go…
Postscript - UPDATE - As I expected, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel is updating its online articles regularly. IF you want to read the update as of 9:57 am today, you can use this link to the article, "Spooner insanity case poised to go to the jury: Final day of testimony set to begin this morning."
John W. Eyster lives in the Edgerton area. He is an adjunct professor of political science at UW-Whitewater and an advocate for Project Citizen, a model curriculum for democracy/civics education in Wisconsin high schools. John is a community blogger and is not a part of The Gazette staff. His opinion is not necessarily that of the The Gazette staff or management.