Crime

Man Gets Life in Prison for Killing Teen He Suspected of Theft

Shooting death captured on surveillance video

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A 76-year-old Milwaukee man who said he was seeking justice when he shot and killed his teen neighbor after accusing the boy of burglary was sentenced Monday to life in prison with no chance of parole.

John H. Spooner, who was convicted last week of first-degree intentional homicide, acknowledged shooting 13-year-old Darius Simmons in the chest last year while the teen's mother watched.

The conviction carried a mandatory sentence of life in prison, although Judge Jeffrey Wagner had the option to allow for the possibility of parole. He rejected that option, meaning Spooner — who has lung cancer and other physical ailments — will die in prison.

Some of Spooner's shotguns were stolen in a break-in at his home in May 2012, and he told the jury he suspected Darius as the thief. Footage from Spooner's own surveillance cameras two days later showed him confronting Darius on the sidewalk, pointing a gun at the boy's chest and firing at from a few feet away. Darius turned and fled, and then collapsed and died in the street moments later as his mother cradled him in her arms.

Police searched the boy's home later that day and didn't find the weapons.