A boy who was 10-years-old when he fatally shot his neo-Nazi father will spend at least seven years in a California state juvenile detention center, a judge has ruled, bringing an end to the highly publicized case that began nearly three years ago.
Joseph Hall was convicted of second-degree murder in 2011 after he told police that he shot his father, Jeffrey Hall, at point blank range behind the ear as Mr. Hall slept on the couch.
Leticia Neal said the state facilities where Hall will serve his sentence are not equipped to handle his special needs and she doubts he will receive a high school education while incarcerated.
“With the current situation, it looks really dim,” she said. “My wish for Joseph is that he goes to an education place that can get him the help he needs – educational, and emotional, too.”
Jeffrey Hall, 32, was an unemployed plumber raising a young family in Riverside, California when he was killed. The case has frequently appeared in the headlines because Hall, a member of the National Socialist Movement, was a local leader in the neo-Nazi movement and frequently wore World War II era Nazi paraphernalia.
He ran for election on a white supremacy platform in 2010 and spoke to National Public Radio a year earlier, after participating in a number of Nazi rallies.
“They’re proud of who they are, tired of white guilt being shoved on their kids and multiculturalism,” Hall said at the time. “They can’t see any reason for it.”
The sentencing phase of the initial murder trial hinged on whether Joseph Hall understood right from wrong at the time of the murder. Judge Jean P. Leonard of the Riverside County Superior Court said that Joseph put the gun under his bed after the shooting, did not cry when the police arrived, and held his composure even as the rest of the family wept openly.
Trial testimony revealed that Hall may have told his sister he planned to shoot their father in the days prior.
“These actions show the court that he knew his actions were wrong and did not want to get caught,” Judge Leonard said in January 2013.
Hall told police he killed his father because he was afraid he would have to choose between living with his father or stepmother after their divorce was finalized.
Prosecutors asserted that Hall showed a prior history of violence, including incidents where he allegedly threatened teachers, and may have been abused as a child. He has spent the past two and a half years in a state youth detention center, going to regular therapy sessions and reportedly controlling his anger.
“I have grown attached to him in an odd way. I enjoy watching him grow and change but I am convinced he has done better in a quasi-military penal environment,” Riverside County Chief Deputy District Attorney Michael Soccio told The Daily Mail.
“He seems to like it, he knows what the rules are and what is expected and he is treated with dignity.”
Judge Leonard ruled Thursday that Hall will leave state custody no later than at age 23, but his defense attorneys say the notoriety surrounding the crime and his father’s beliefs have put Hall at greater risk.
“It is a very dangerous place for him. He’s got a lot of vulnerability here,” said Punam Patel Grewal, the boy’s defense attorney. “When he comes out at 23, we’ve got a huge problem.”