LOS ANGELES – A Riverside County, Calif., judge Monday found a 12-year-old boy responsible for killing his neo-Nazi father in 2011, and criticized the boy’s family and social workers for not protecting the youngster before he felt compelled to reach for a gun.
“There were so many warning signs,” Judge Jean P. Leonard said.
Leonard said the evidence showed that the boy, who was 10 years old when he pulled the trigger, had the mental capacity to know that killing his father was wrong. He planned the killing, and then tried to conceal his guilt by stashing the .357-magnum revolver under his mattress, Leonard noted.
The boy’s father, Jeffrey Hall, was a West Coast leader for the neo-Nazi organization known as the National Socialist Movement. The judge said Hall’s attempts to indoctrinate his son into the hate group corrupted the thoughts of a boy who already was disturbed and displaying violent tendencies.
“It’s clear that this minor knows more than the average child about guns, hate and violence,” Leonard said. “This is not a naive little boy unaware of the ways of the world.”
The youngster’s sentencing hearing is scheduled for Feb. 15.
The boy’s attorney, public defender Matthew Hardy, said during the trial that Hall, when drunk or high, routinely beat his son. Shortly before he was killed, Hall also threatened to set the house on fire with his children and second wife still inside.
Hardy plans to appeal Monday’s ruling, saying he believes the judge erred when she found that the boy had the mental capacity to know shooting his father was wrong.
Hardy said that at the time of the shooting, the boy was a dependent of the court, a designation intended in part to shield him from further abuse.