A California judge has ruled that a 12-year-old boy is guilty of murder after fatally shooting his neo-Nazi father in 2011.
On Monday, California juvenile judge Jean Leonard found that the boy, who has not be identified due to being a juvenile, had committed murder when he shot his father, Jeffrey Hall, in May of 2011.
Hall was the Southwestern states regional director for the National Socialist Movement (NSM), one of the largest and most well known neo-Nazi organizations in the United States. Idolizing Hitler, the group is known for their harsh views of Jews, immigrants, homosexuals and anyone who is not "pure-blood whites".
A spokesman with the Riverside County district attorney's office claimed that the father's affiliation with the NSM did not play a role in the murder, saying:
"It was our belief that this would have happened even if (Hall) was not part of the National Socialist Movement. This was done more on a domestic level."
While Hall's racist views may or may not have played a part in the murder, continued abuse appears to be the prime motive in the shooting. According to court testimony, the boy's stepmother, Krista McCary, stated Hall had been physically and mentally abuse towards the boy in the past. During an interview with police, the boy said he was "tired of his dad hitting him and his mom." The also accused his father of having an affair and was afraid it would lead to a breakup of the family.
Matthew Hardy, defense attorney for the boy, stated that the father's beliefs and the abuse led the child to believe that it was acceptable to kill people who posed a threat. Thinking that the only way to end the violence was to shoot his father, the boy picked up his father's .357 Magnum and shot Hall as he slept on the couch.
Judge Leonard agreed that the boy had been the victim of abuse and neglect, but believed the boy was fully aware that shooting his father was wrong, saying he "plotted and carried out the murder of his father". Leonard went on to say:
“It’s clear he knows more than the average child about guns, hate and violence. This was not a naive little boy unaware to the ways of the world.”
Leonard also stated that she believed the father's white supremacist beliefs had affected the boy, saying it gave him thoughts "normal kids don't have."
Leonard must now decide if the boy should be sent to a Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation facility or find alternative placement. Currently the boy would be the youngest to be held in a correctional facility. The prosecutor in the case, Michael Soccio, told The Press-Enterprise:
“He is a little boy and his life has been very, very sad. He is troubled and violent, and as a society we have a real problem on our hands on how to help someone like him.”
Hardy told the LA Times he did not believe a state facility was the proper place to house the boy, saying:
"That's not a place for children. He'll be spending his time learning how to become a gangbanger or a killer.'
The sentencing hearing is scheduled for Feb. 15th.