The sandy-haired boy who was 10 when he shot his neo-Nazi father in the head two years ago will be the youngest inmate in a California juvenile justice facility, “surrounded,” his lawyer told the Los Angeles Times, “by gang members and older kids who have committed sexual offenses.”
Now 13, the boy was ordered Thursday by a judge in Riverside County to spend up to10 years in a state-run juvenile justice facility for killing his father, Jeff Hall, a West Coast leader of one the country’s largest neo-Nazi groups, the National Socialist Movement (NSM).
The child’s lawyer, Punam Grewal, blasted the sentence, according to the Times, calling it a “miscarriage of justice.”
Grewal argued that boy should be placed in a private yet secure residential facility where he could receive better mental health services.
“There was a complete disregard of the evidence of this child’s disabilities, complete disregard of the evidence of the horrific 10 years of abuse that he suffered,” Grewal told the paper.
But even as she sentenced the boy to the tough California juvenile justice system, the judge, Jean R. Leonard, acknowledged his deeply troubled and often violent upbringing.
“This is an individual with exceptional needs,” the Associated Press quoted Leonard as saying during sentencing.
The boy will be eligible for parole in seven years when he is 20.
Michael Soccio, the prosecutor, said he had grown fond of the child during the course of the long case that began in the early morning hours of May 1, 2011, when Hall, asleep on the couch in his living room in Riverside County, was shot in the head at point-blank range with a .357 Magnum.
Soccio asked the court for permission to visit the boy at the juvenile facility, even though, according to the Times, the prosecutor described him as dangerous, a “lost soul” who “was born with a very troubled spirit, with a lot of anger.”
The prosecutor said the boy would receive counseling and treatment in the facility and he hoped would “be able to come out as undamaged as possible.”
“He’s resilient,” Soccio told the Times. “He’s a thriver under the worst conditions.”
The child was found responsible in January for the second-degree murder of his 32-year-old father. During the trial, the defense argued that Hall, an unemployed plumber, had abused the child over the years – physically and psychologically. He reportedly took the boy to numerous white supremacist rallies and meetings.
Hall raised his son in a household soaked in racist hate.
The fact that the son killed the father was never in dispute in the trial. The case turned on the question of why the little boy pulled the trigger and whether he was able to know right from wrong.
Tragically, it appears the adults in his life were incapable of teaching him the difference.