Christopher Simmons was 17 years old when he was arrested for the murder of Shirley Crook. He was sentenced to death after being convicted of first-degree murder. Simmons' case was heard by the Missouri Supreme Court in 2003, nine years after his conviction. That court reversed the judgment and ordered a new trial because the judge who had presided over the original trial had been involved in another trial that resulted in a guilty verdict. The case was again tried before a new judge. This time Simmons was found guilty of second-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison.
On February 20, 1976, 16-year-old Simmons and two other young men were driving around Jefferson City looking for someone to rob. They decided to break into a house where a girl they knew was staying with her grandparents. When they got there, they saw that the back door was open, so they went inside and waited for someone to come home. After about half an hour, they heard noise coming from the basement and went down there to find Shirley Crook, age 14, trying to protect herself from being raped by Simmons. She was beaten with a club and then strangled with a wire until she died. Her body was dumped in a field near her home.
After his arrest, Simmons told police that he didn't mean to kill her but admitted that he hit her with the club and choked her with the wire because she would not stop screaming.
In Simmons, 543 U.S. 551 (2005), the United States Supreme Court ruled that death punishment for acts committed while under the age of 18 is unconstitutional. Stanford v. Board of Regents, a 5-4 judgment, was overturned. The majority held that the Eighth Amendment's prohibition on "cruel and unusual" punishments precluded imposition of the death penalty on children. Writing for the majority, Justice John Paul Stevens concluded that "there can be no doubt that executing juveniles would violate the Constitution."
Stanford had been sentenced to death when he was only 17 years old. He had murdered his girlfriend during an argument over a girl named Julie Carter. She had been 12 years old at the time of her death. Stanford had never been treated for mental illness and he did not show any remorse for the crime. In fact, he seemed to enjoy making his victims suffer.
A petition for certiorari was filed with the Supreme Court on Stanford's behalf but it was denied. Execution date was set for January 24th, 2001 but it was stayed due to the filing of the petition. California eventually moved forward with plans to execute Stanford but before he died, he filed another appeal asking that the execution be stopped again. His lawyers argued that there were new developments in psychology and psychiatry that showed he was not responsible for his actions at the time of the murder.
MILWAUKEE (CBS/AP) — A 76-year-old Milwaukee man condemned to life in prison without the possibility of parole for shooting and killing his young neighbor, Darius Simmons, after suspecting the kid of burglary. Judge Jeffrey Wagner denied Spooner parole during a sentencing hearing on Monday. The judge said he took into account Spooner's age and health when deciding against releasing him.
Spooner told the court that he used to be an upstanding citizen until he got hooked on heroin at age 18. Since then, he has spent most of his time in and out of prison for drug offenses.
When asked by the judge if he had anything to say, Spooner replied, "No, your honor." After the hearing, Spooner's attorney, James Mueller, said his client was not happy with the decision but understood it was not up to him. "He's going to have to deal with it," Mueller said. "We're just trying to do what's right."
The fatal shooting occurred in January 2015 after Spooner saw Simmons inside his home with a flashlight under his shirt. Prosecutors said Spooner thought the teenager was breaking into the house and shot him twice in the chest. Doctors were unable to save Simmons, who was only 15 years old.
Spooner has maintained that he did not know it was actually his son who had been killed until much later.
On May 31, a 13-year-old child called Darius Simmons was reportedly shot to death in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, by 75-year-old John Henry Spooner, directly in front of the kid's mother, Patricia Larry. Unconvinced, Spooner allegedly lifted his handgun and shot Darius in the chest at close range. The bullet pierced his heart, killing him instantly.
Darius' mother said her son was trying to help an older woman who had been kicked out of her house. She claimed that she didn't know anything about the gun, so she sued Milwaukee for $10 million, saying that its failure to protect her son from violence was negligent. In addition, she filed a separate lawsuit against Spooner for $150,000.
Spooner always claimed that he didn't mean to kill Darius but only wanted to scare him away from his house. He said that he fired one shot into the air but forgot that there was someone inside the house. When Darius walked up to him, Spooner thought that he was going to hit him with his car, so he fired another shot. However, they were standing too far apart for the gun to be a reliable weapon at such short distance. So, Spooner threw it into a nearby yard where it was found by police later on.
In August 2016, Spooner died of natural causes at the age of 77. His attorney said that he hoped that his client's death would bring some comfort to Darius' family.
Departed (1912-2009) Simmons, Philip/ Are you still living or have you passed away? / Yes, he's still alive. He must be about 110 years old now.
He's the last surviving member of the famous singing duo Billy & Phil. They were the first singers to sell millions of records with their version of The Andrews Sisters' hit song, "Boogie Woogie".
Simmons was born on January 11, 1892 in Wilmington, Delaware. His father was a minister who later became an Episcopal priest. When Simmons was 10 years old, his family moved to New York City where his father took over the church of St. Paul's in Harlem. Young Phil began to take piano lessons from a young age and also learned to sing in the choir. At the age of 14, he made his debut as a singer at the Apollo Theater in New York City.
During World War I, he served in the Army as a pianist for the ambulance service. After the war, he returned to New York City where he joined a band led by John Hammond. Under his guidance, the group eventually became one of the most popular jazz bands in New York City.