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Elderly man pleads not guilty in Darius Simmons murder case

CREATED Jun 11, 2012 - UPDATED: Jun 11, 2012

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  • Video by wtmj.com

  • Video by wtmj.com

  • Video by wtmj.com

  • Video by wtmj.com


Click on the video link under Associated Videos to see Milwaukee Police Chief Ed Flynn's response to how MPD is handing this investigation.

MILWAUKEE - A 75-year-old man who allegedly shot and killed his 13-year-old neighbor has pleaded not guilty and waived his preliminary hearing.

John Spooner was set to move towards trial in a case that has garnered national attention.

Spooner, 75, faces accusations of shooting Darius Simmons right in front of his own mother.

"I gotta...gotta problem with my arm," said a very talkative Spooner at the court hearing on Monday.

Simmons' family sat right behind Spooner during the hearing.  Representatives of Simmons' family talked afterward.

"We saw a defendant who came to court laughing, giggling and motioning for coffee, showing no remorse," said Bishop Tavis Grant, who represents Rainbow Push.

Spooner apparently believed Simmons stole three shotguns from his home on the 1900 block of West Arrow Street on the city's south side.

Simmons told Spooner he did not have them.  Then, Spooner allegedly pulled out a handgun and fatally shot him in front of his mother.

He allegedly admitted to the shooting.

"When a lay person says that they're guilty of a crime, they really are not speaking with an understanding of the particulars of the crime that's charged," explained Spooner's attorney, Frank Gimbel.

Representatives for Simmons' family say they want hate crime charges against Spooner.

"We feel that Darius' race played a factor, and we want it examined," explained Bishop Grant.

"We'll keep coming back until we get justice for Darius Simmons."

The shooting has drawn national attention and criticism.

Even police have come under criticism about allegedly questioning Simmons' mother for two hours while her son lay dead in the street.

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett is asking for an investigation into those allegations about officers mistreating Simmons' mother.

Milwaukee Police Chief Edward Flynn responded to those allegations on Monday.

"We didn't have a Sanford, Fla. here.  We weren't dithering.  We got the facts as fast we could, took immediate action and made a high-profile arrest that night.  That was our goal.  If we could have done it in a more sensitive manner, we'll certainly look into that," said Flynn at a police roll call on Monday morning.

Spooner has been charged with first degree intentional homicide.  If he is convicted, he could face up to life in prison.

A scheduling conference has been scheduled for June 20th.