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A judge ruled Monday a 12-year-old Riverside boy was found responsible for the second-degree murder of his father, a regional director of a neo-Nazi organization. Along with the murder count, Riverside Superior Court Judge Jean Leonard found true sentence-enhancing gun and great bodily injury allegations. A “true” or “not true” verdict is the juvenile-court equivalent of guilty. The case was heard without a jury.
Leonard acknowledged the boy’s “long history of abuse and neglect.” Leonard agreed with a psychologist who testified during trial that for the boy, “the potential for violence could have been predicted” based on prenatal substance abuse by the mother, domestic violence between parents and the father’s neo-Nazi philosophy. Leonard said she considered the boy’s age, the circumstance of the crime, the boy’s experience, including family and mental condition, and his understanding of the crime.
The judge laid out the morning of the crime: Before dawn on May 1, 2011, the boy got the family’s .357 Magnum out of his parents’ room while everyone was asleep. He walked downstairs to where his father, 32-year-old Jeff Hall, was sleeping on the couch. He put the gun to his father’s head and pulled the trigger with both hands. The boy then went up to his room and hid the gun under the bed.
Through the course of the trial the young boy admitted that he knew what he was doing wrong at the time of the crime, and that he knew about hate. Leonard said the boy’s statements made within the first 24 hours following the crime were “the most believable.” Those statements gave “a clear picture of whether he understood whether what he did was wrong,” the judge said. The judge said after the crime, the boy – who pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity – told police, “if you want to kill someone, you shoot them in the head.”
Prosecutors maintained Hall’s white supremacist beliefs had nothing to do with the crime. The father was a regional leader of the National Socialist Movement, which promotes white separatism. His other children have been taken into protective custody. Prosecutors noted the boy had a history of violence that dated back to kindergarten when he stabbed a teacher with a pencil. The boy was expelled from approximately eight schools, Leonard said. Prosecutors also said the boy told his younger sister two days before the shooting that he planned to kill his father.
The young boy’s defense attorney said his client grew up in an abusive and violent environment and learned it was acceptable to kill people who were a threat. Hardy contended the boy thought if he shot his dad, the violence would end.
“He was kept in an environment where he was conditioned to use violence. He learned that from his dad,” Hardy said, referring to Hall’s neo-Nazi activities and alleged penchant for “slapping, hitting and yelling” at his oldest child. “This young man never had a chance,” the attorney said. “He was genetically programmed to commit violence.”
A dispositional hearing was scheduled for Feb. 15. The county Department of Probation was directed to draw up a pre-sentencing report listing options for the 12-year-old’s placement. The boy is expected to be incarcerated to age 23.
If you or a loved one has been charged with a crime, contact an experienced and aggressive criminal defense attorney to fight for your rights! Call Don Ho Law at 714-748-7715.
Published by Don Ho Law. Don Ho is a criminal defense and employment law attorney in Orange County, California.
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