Parents of black 13-year-old boy shot dead by elderly white neighbor win $1.5million judgement against killer

(August 18, 2014)

The parents of a 13-year-old Milwaukee boy who was fatally shot by an elderly neighbor have won a $1.5 million civil judgment against the convicted killer.

Judge Kevin Martens, of Milwaukee County, awarded damages of $1.2 million for Patricia Larry, mother of Darius Simmons, and $300,000 for the boy's father, Darius Simmons Sr.

Wisconsin law caps such damages at $500,000, so the judge apportioned $400,000 to Larry and $100,000 to Simmons, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Grieving: Patricia Larry, Darius Simmons' mother, testified in court that she watched as John Spooner killed her 13-year-old boy

Tragedy: Darius Simmons, 13, was gunned down after his elderly neighbor wrongfully accused him of stealing several guns from his home

The boy's killer, John Henry Spooner, 76, was sentenced to life in prison last month after telling jurors that he killed Darius for justice because he believed he stole his shotguns.

The man's home had been burglarized two days before the May 2012 shooting, and he suspected the boy was the thief.

So he confronted the teen, demanded that he return the guns and then shot him in the chest in front of his mother when he denied stealing anything.

Spooner's own home surveillance cameras captured the shooting in Milwaukee and prosecutors aired the footage in court.

Judge Martens' decision on Friday is largely symbolic. The family is unlikely to collect damages from Spooner because of his old age and his life sentence.

Guilty: John Spooner, 76, was convicted last month in the shooting death of Darius Simmons, resulting in a mandatory sentence of life in prison

But the judgment ensures that any assets discovered in Spooner's estate will go to the boy's parents.

While in court for his sentencing, Spooner spoke in a frail voice that was sometimes difficult to hear and reiterated that he felt he had little choice but to take the law into his own hands.

'They had to rob the house,' he said. 'Why'd they do that to me? ... They pushed me over the edge, I guess.

'I don't know. As far as being sorry, I don't know if I did right or wrong.'

Judge Jeffrey Wagner replied sternly: 'I can tell you, you did wrong. You took the life of a child.'

Heartbroken: The boy's mother, Patricia Larry, was awarded $1.2 million in damages over her son's 2012 shooting


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