A prosecutor used the first day of the murder trial of a 12-year-old Riverside boy to lay out evidence that the youngster planned in advance to kill his father in May 2011.
Riverside County Deputy District Attorney Michael Soccio also told a Riverside juvenile court judge that the shooting death of neo-Nazi leader Jeff Hall, the boy's father, was not the result of his white supremacist beliefs, but instead the act of an angry and violent boy.
Soccio said the Joseph Hall, who was 10 when the killing occurred, suspected his father was going to leave his stepmother and didn't want to end up in his father's custody.
"You'll learn that (the child) would have shot his father even if he'd been a member of the Peace and Freedom Party. It made no difference," Soccio said, before showing the court photos of Hall playing tea party with his young children. "They lived a relatively normal life."
In a police recording from the morning of the shooting, Joseph’s younger sister said to her brother: “I thought you were going to shoot him in the stomach.”
That plays into the prosecution’s theory that the boy planned the killing. Prosecutors say Joseph shot his father in the head as he slept.
Public defender Matthew Hardy drew a different picture of the boy's home life. He told the judge that the boy was motivated by a desire to stop his father from physically abusing him, his younger sister and stepmother Krista McCary.
“He tried to be the hero,” said public defender Matthew Hardy.
Hardy also said that Joseph was "conditioned" to be violent in the face threats.
"If you were going to create a monster, if you were going to create a killer, what would you do?" he said. "You'd put him in a house where there's domestic violence, child abuse, racism."
Hardy also suggested that McCary pushed the boy into killing Hall, 32, because her husband planned to leave her for another woman.
In testimony yesterday, McCary said teachers and children were targets of Joseph’s violent outbursts, including stabbings with pencils. McCary said she stopped visiting the boy nearly a year ago after he told investigators that she had pressured him to kill his father.
McCary said the boy lied, thinking he’d be let out early. She claimed Joseph has a “kill list” of people to target when he’s released from juvenile detention.
If convicted, that won’t happen until Joseph Hall turns 23.
Trial resumes on Wednesday. The judge, not a jury, will render a verdict. That could come as soon as next week.