Convicted murderer's attorney doubts client's mental competence - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

Convicted murderer's attorney doubts client's mental competence


MADISON (WKOW) -- The lawyer for the 76-year-old John Henry Spooner says his client doesn't appear to be mentally competent for the second phase of a two-part trial.

A jury convicted Spooner Wednesday of first-degree intentional homicide in the shooting death of his teenage neighbor, Darius Simmons. Now the jury is being asked to determine whether Spooner was mentally ill at the time of the shooting.

Spooner didn't testify in the first phase, and the judge asked him Thursday if he wants to testify in the second phase. Spooner asked whether he'd be able to make a statement instead.

His attorneys huddled with him behind closed doors for about 15 minutes. Defense attorney Franklyn Gimbel says Spooner made comments that raised questions about whether he was competent to proceed.

The judge called a recess to determine whether the mental-health professionals who were going to testify about Spooner could quickly re-evaluate him.


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