The tragedy of the racist and the son is now complete.
A California judge found a 12-year-old boy guilty today of second-degree murder in the shooting death of his father, Jeff Hall, a West Coast leader of one of the country’s largest neo-Nazi groups, the National Socialist Movement. The boy was just 10 when he shot his father in the head with a .357 Magnum at point-blank range as Hall lay sleeping on a sofa in the family’s living room in the early morning hours of May 1, 2011.
The fact that the son killed the father was not in dispute in the Riverside County, Calif., trial. Indeed, the case turned on the question of why the little boy pulled the trigger and whether he was able to know right from wrong.
The defense argued that Hall, an unemployed plumber, had abused the child over the years – physically and psychologically. Hall raised his son in a household soaked in racist hate. He reportedly took the boy to numerous white supremacist rallies and meetings. According to The New York Times article published shortly after Hall’s death, the neo-Nazi “relished heading to the desert on armed ‘border patrols,’” and bragged “that he was teaching his son to use night vision equipment and shoot a gun.”
Before the start of the trial, the boy’s public defender, Matthew Hardy, told The New York Times, “He’s been conditioned to violence.’’
“You have to ask yourself,” Hardy continued, “did this kid really know that this act was wrong based on all those things.”
But the prosecutor, Michael Soccio, told the newspaper that the boy killed his father because he was angry at being punished and spanked at a party the day before.
“There’s a sweet side to him,” the prosecutor admitted to the paper. “What he did, had it been done by anybody older, there would be no doubt that it was murder.
“It’s planned,” he continued. “It’s premeditated. It was carried out in a cold killing fashion. It’s murder.”
The trial began late last year but was postponed for several weeks until early January to give a psychologist more time to interview the child. He was tried without a jury before Judge Jean P. Leonard.
Sentencing has been scheduled for Feb. 15 after a disposition hearing based on probation and psychological reports, according to the Press-Enterprise of Riverside, Calif. Afterward, the judge could order the boy held in a juvenile detention facility or specialized group home until he’s 23.