It is déjà vu. In Milwaukee, an elderly white man is set to face trial for the shooting death of an alleged suspicious black teen neighbor — right in front of his mother — whom he accused of burglarizing his home. This comes just days after the sensationalized and racially divisive George Zimmerman trial and acquittal under eerily similar circumstances in Sanford, Fla.
More than a year ago, John Henry Spooner, 76, shot Darius Simmons, 13, who was his next door neighbor, accused the teenager of stealing $3,000 worth of guns from his home.
A national field director for Rev. Jesse Jackson’s Rainbow PUSH Coalition said in Wisconsin last year that the shooting of Darius Simmons, 13, was “vigilantism and rogue police behavior” in a similar vein to the killing in Florida of Trayvon Martin, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported.
Both cases involved an older white man allegedly killing a black teen the shooter believed was suspicious in one way or another. Zimmerman is a white Hispanic.
The teen was living with his mother next door to Spooner for only a month when he was taking out the trash shortly after 10:00 a.m. Spooner came out and accused the boy stealing his shotguns and ordered the boy to return them immediately. The boy told Spooner he had not stolen the guns. His mother, Patricia Larry, told the elderly man to go back inside (the house).
This is when Spooner pulled out a handgun and shot Simmons in the chest from only five feet away, killing the boy in front of his mother, the New York Daily News reports.
Spooner’s behavior brought condemnation from the highest office in the city.
“I condemn in the strongest words possible the murder of Darius Simmons,” Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett said last year after the shooting. “To have a boy who’s taking out the garbage at 10:30 in the morning murdered should shock the conscience of the state.”
Like Zimmerman, Spooner admitted to the arriving officers that he killed the teen.
“Yeah, I shot him,” he reportedly said.
The trial, was scheduled to begin Monday has been twice delayed. His defense lawyers reportedly plans to claim Spooner is not guilty because of mental disorder or defect. If convicted of first-degree intentional homicide, Spooner will spend the rest of his days in prison.
“My son, Darius Simmons, was shot and killed in front of me,” his mother, told the Sentinel in May after the trial was delayed for a second time. “It’s affected me, my friends, and my work.”
The redeeming factor for the grieving Simmons family that was not available to the family of Trayvon Martin: Spooner shot Simmons on May 31, 2012, in front of at least two witnesses.