MILWAUKEE (AP) – John Henry Spooner wrote a letter to his local newspaper on the day he was convicted of killing his teenage neighbor, wondering whether he got a fair trial and asking for help in getting the truth out.
Spooner, 76, wrote to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on July 19 questioning his lawyer’s adequacy. He said he still wasn’t sure whether killing the teen was right or wrong, the newspaper reported Friday. The letter arrived Thursday.
A jury took less than two hours last week to find Spooner guilty of killing 13-year-old Darius Simmons. Spooner had testified that he killed the boy as “justice” for having stolen guns from Spooner’s home two days earlier. Police searched Darius’ home and didn’t find the weapons.
In his letter, Spooner complained that his lawyer didn’t properly instruct him about his Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination. Spooner told the judge he hoped to make a 15-minute statement to the judge but not testify.
Defense attorney Frank Gimbel did try to persuade Spooner not to testify, even asking the judge to halt the trial so Spooner could be evaluated for mental incompetence.
In his letter, Spooner wrote Gimbel “knew what I wanted to say and beat around the bush to give the D.A. a chance at me.”
Spooner also wondered why Gimbel didn’t call any character witnesses to the stand.
Gimbel defended his representation of Spooner, telling the newspaper that his client appeared to view himself as a victim of everybody and anything.
Spooner’s handwritten letter also asked the newspaper to help get the truth out about the evidence against him.
Footage from Spooner’s surveillance cameras showed at least two people who looked to be in their teens near his home around the time of the burglary. Police testified the footage was too blurry to form probable cause for further investigation, but Spooner said the officers’ unwillingness to do their jobs forced him to take matters into his own hands.
Spooner also asked in his letter whether judges and police officers could be sued.
Information from: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, http://www.jsonline.com