Shooting suspect John Spooner, 76, to get mental exam

CREATED Jan 14, 2013

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  • John H. Spooner is brought before Barry Phillips, Judicial Court Commissioner, at the Criminal Justice Facility where Spooner waived his right to a preliminary hearing in June 2012. Image by Rick Wood

MILWAUKEE (AP) -- A 76-year-old Milwaukee man accused of shooting and killing his teenage neighbor will get a mental exam to determine whether he's competent to proceed to trial.

John Spooner was in court Monday for a motion hearing. He's accused of killing 13-year-old Darius Simmons last May over an alleged theft.

Defense attorney Steve McGaver requested a change of venue, arguing that pre-trial publicity would make it difficult for Spooner to receive a fair trial. Judge Jeffrey Wagner denied that motion.

McGaver also told the judge there was reason to believe Spooner might not be competent to proceed. The judge ordered that Spooner be evaluated by a mental-health professional.

Online court records say the doctor's report is due Feb. 4. The trial date was also pushed back two months, to May 6.

Photo courtesy Rick Wood