Wisconsin man, 76, gets life in prison for shooting 13-year-old neighbor to death

John Henry Spooner, left, was sentenced for fatally shooting his 13-year-old neighbor, Darius Simmons, whom he suspected of burglary. Patricia Larry, right, is pictured holding a photo of her son. Milwaukee County Sheriff / AP

The 76-year-old Milwaukee man who admitted shooting and killing his 13-year-old neighbor last year was sentenced to life in prison Monday.

Milwaukee County Circuit Judge Jeffrey Wagner said John Henry Spooner wouldn't be eligible for parole, telling him, "There should never be any light in the tunnel for you."

Jurors took less than an hour last week to find Spooner guilty of first-degree intentional homicide after they watched video — from his own security camera — of Spooner shooting Darius Simmons in the chest in May 2012.

The jury needed even less time Friday to reject Spooner's insanity defense, finding him criminally responsible after 15 minutes of deliberations.

Spooner told police he confronted Darius because he was sure the boy had taken four shotguns from his home. None of his guns were found in Darius' homes.

Before his sentencing Monday, Spooner told the court he still wasn't sure "if I did right or wrong."

"I feel sorry for Darius," Spooner said, The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reported. "I feel sorry that he had nobody to teach him what's right."

Darius' mother, Patricia Larry, told the court before sentencing: "My pain is so great. I wasn't sure I would be able to do this. I'm here for my son, Darius Simmons.

"I want [Spooner] to have life in prison. He is a menace to society," she said, according to the Journal-Sentinel. "We need to put the guns down. No mother should have to go through this."

Afterward, she told NBC station WTMJ of Milwaukee that justice had been served.

"I want to thank God and Mr. Williams. He did a wonderful job," she said, referring to the prosecutor, Milwaukee County Assistant District Attorney Mark Williams.

Larry has filed a separate wrongful-death lawsuit against Spooner.

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