The verdict in the George Zimmerman trial for the killing of Travon Martin influenced jury selection for the trial of John H. Spooner, who shot and killed Darius Simmons based upon the incorrect suspicion that Darius stole guns from Mr. Spooner’s home. Compounding the tragedy, Darius’ mother witnessed the shooting from only a few feet away.
The Milwaukee County District Attorney’s office charged John H. Spooner with first degree intentional homicide. On July 15, 2013, jury selection for the trial for Mr. Spooner occurred. Many potential jurors compared Mr. Spooner’s shooting of Darius to George Zimmerman’s shooting of Travon Martin. Just prior to the shooting, Mr. Spooner complained to Milwaukee Alderman Bob Donovan about the police response to the alleged burglary of his home. According to Alderman Donovan, Mr. Spooner said something to the effect of “there are other ways of dealing with situations like this.” Some have suggested that Mr. Spooner’s comment indicated vigilantism, which led to the George Zimmerman comparisons. Ultimately, 14 jurors were selected for the trial of Mr. Spooner, ten men and four women. Only one black person made it onto the jury. Franklyn Gimbel, the lawyer for Mr. Spooner, objected to three other potential black jurors, which resulted in them being struck from the jury pool. Milwaukee Assistant District Attorney Mark Williams, who is prosecuting Mr. Spooner, claimed that Mr. Gimbel’s objection to the black jurors was not race-neutral. The court will consider Mr. Williams’ claim today as the trial continues. Please continue to follow our website and our blog for updates on the case.
The Milwaukee civil rights attorneys of Samster, Konkel & Safran, S.C. represent the mother of Darius Simmons in her lawsuit against John H. Spooner. We will work hard to ensure that there is justice for the killing of Darius.