RIVERSIDE, Calif. (AP) — A boy who was only 10 when he fatally shot his white supremacist father was convicted Monday of second-degree murder by a judge who said the child knew what he did was wrong.
Riverside Superior Court Judge Jean Leonard weighed the severity of the crime versus whether the amount of abuse and neglect suffered by the boy, now 12, played a significant role in the slaying of 32-year-old Jeff Hall, a regional leader of the National Socialist Movement.
Leonard noted the boy lay in bed, waited for the right moment and shot his dad at point-blank range with the "bad gun" — a .357 Magnum — while he slept on a soft in the family home.
"This was not a complex killing," said Leonard, who heard the case without a jury. "He thought about the idea and shot his father."
The boy's stepmother told authorities that Hall had hit, kicked and yelled at his son for being too loud or getting in the way. Hall and the boy's biological mother had previously gone through a divorce and custody dispute in which each had accused the other of child abuse. She initially told authorities she had killed Hall but then quickly retracted her statement. She was not charged in the case.
Defense attorney Matthew Hardy said because of the abuse his client learned it was acceptable to kill people who were a threat. The boy thought if he shot his dad, the violence would end, Hardy said.
Also at issue were the father's racist beliefs.
Hall, who said he believed in a white breakaway nation, ran for a seat on the local water board in 2010 in a move that disturbed many residents in the recession-battered suburbs southeast of Los Angeles. The day before his death, he held a meeting of the neo-Nazi group at his home.
Hall had previously taken the boy on a U.S.-Mexico border patrol trip and showed him how to use a gun, according to court documents.
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