Riverside Superior Court Juvenile Judge, Jean P. Leonard, ruled on Monday that a 12-year-old boy was responsible for shooting his father, with neo nazi, affiliations in the head.
Riverside County Chief Deputy District Attorney Michael Soccio expressed sympathy for the child and said the case was difficult to prosecute.
“He is a little boy and his life has been very, very sad,” Soccio said. “He is troubled and violent, and as a society we have a real problem on our hands on how to help someone like him.”
The boy’s attorney, Deputy Public Defender Matt Hardy, said he thought the ruling sent the wrong message that such a young child could be responsible for his conduct. In his closing argument, Hardy sought a verdict of voluntary manslaughter.
The boy’s fate will be decided at a deposition hearing scheduled for February 15th.
In her ruling Judge Leonard acknowledged that the child grew up with abuse and neglect, but inferred that the 10-year-old boy was aware of what he was doing when plotted and carried out the murder of his father, Jeff Hall, on May 1, 2011. Jeff Hall was a regional leader in the National Socialist movement.
Judge Leonard also cited systematic failure by various social services that should have helped protect the child and recognized the danger in the violent tendencies that he exhibited from an early age. However, Judge Leonard did not acknowledge how systematic prolonged abuse could have played a role in this tragedy.