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Judge postpones sentencing of boy who killed his neo-Nazi father

A Riverside County judge says she needs more information from the Probation Department about the 12-year-old's mental health and more time to allow officials to complete an education assessment.

February 15, 2013|By Phil Willon, Los Angeles Times

A Riverside County judge on Friday postponed the sentencing of a 12-year-old boy found guilty of shooting his neo-Nazi father in the head while he slept on his living room couch.

Superior Court Judge Jean P. Leonard said she needed more information from the probation department about the youth's mental health and more time to allow officials to complete an education assessment. She rescheduled sentencing to March 1.

Leonard could send the boy to a juvenile detention facility run by the state Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation or to a less restrictive institution, such as a facility in Indio run by the Riverside County Department of Probation.

In January, the judge found that the Riverside boy, who was 10 when he pulled the trigger, possessed the mental capacity to know that killing his father was wrong. He was found guilty of second-degree murder and of using a gun while committing a felony.

In the early morning hours of May 1, 2011, the youngster crept downstairs with a revolver, pulled the hammer back and shot his father point-blank in the head as the man slept on the family's couch.

The youngster'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 thought processes of a boy who already was disturbed and displayed violent tendencies.

Because the boy was charged as a juvenile, he can be kept in state custody only until he is 23. The Times is withholding the boy's identity because of his age.

The boy's attorney said during the trial that Hall, when drunk or high, routinely beat his son. Shortly before he was killed, Hall also threatened to leave the family and to set the house on fire with his children and second wife inside, according to court proceedings.

The boy probably thought he was protecting his family when he fired that revolver, his attorney said. The prosecutor, however, said the boy coldly plotted to kill his father, sharing his plans with his younger sister. He also said the boy had a history of violent outbursts.

The first signs of the boy's violent tendencies surfaced at an early age. When he was a toddler, his grandmother refused to baby-sit him because of his outbursts, and he later was expelled from eight schools for violent behavior, including an attempt to strangle a teacher with a phone cord, according to evidence presented at the trial.

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