Crime & Justice

Riverside judge: 13-year old who killed neo-Nazi father is committed to state juvenile facility (Update)

Criminal court cases are heard at the Riverside Hall of Justice located in Riverside, CA.
Criminal court cases are heard at the Riverside Hall of Justice located in Riverside, CA.

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UPDATE 3:19 p.m.: A Riverside judge on Thursday committed a boy who was 10 years old when he killed his neo-Nazi father to a California juvenile facility. His defense attorney had argued that the boy should be sent to a private facility for treatment.

This story will be updated.

PREVIOUSLY: Riverside judge to decide fate of 13-year old who killed neo-Nazi father 

A 13-year old boy who shot and killed his neo-Nazi father two years ago will learn Thursday where he could possibly spend the next decade.

A Riverside County Superior Court judge will decide if the boy will be placed in a state-run juvenile detention center or in a private facility for the murder of his father.

KPCC has decided not to print the boy’s name due to his age and the circumstances of the case.

The boy was 10 years old when he shot his 32-year-old father, Jeff Hall, in the head while the man slept on the couch at their home in May of 2011. In January, Superior Court Judge Jean Leonard decided the grade-schooler knew what he was doing when he fatally shot his father. The decision held the now 13-year-old boy criminally responsible for the murder of Hall, who was a regional leader of the National Socialist Movement.

The boy’s defense attorneys argued he was raised in an abusive, violent home and subjected to his father’s racists beliefs.

“He had limited opportunities to socialize,” defense attorney Punman Grewal said in a recent interview. “He didn’t go to Disneyland. He went to the border to shoot at Mexican people.”

Grewal doesn’t think the state’s Division of Juvenile Justice is the best place for the boy’s rehabilitation and educational needs. The lawyer cites the DJJ’s troubled past — it has since been under reform. She said the boy has serious emotional disabilities, including severe attention deficit and hyper-activity disorder, and has had violent outbursts that need more intense therapy to help him obtain an education.

“Yes, he needs to be protected for himself and the benefit of others,” Grewal said. “But it doesn’t mean that there aren’t locations throughout the country that are more therapeutic and treatment based.”

In a series of court hearings, the defense team has suggested three private facilities in San Diego, Texas and Utah. But some of them are not secure. For example, some lack locking fences.

“I think any place where he can walk away whenever he wants and can do what he pleases, pretty much, is a very poor choice,” said Michael Soccio, deputy chief district attorney for Riverside County, in a recent interview.

Stories about the boy’s violent outbursts during his early childhood, which include trying to strangle a teacher, came out during previous court hearings.

Soccio told a judge Wednesday that the boy should be sent to the state’s O.H. Close Detention Center in Stockton, according to the Riverside Press-Enterprise. He believes the boy needs strict structure, routine and accountability.

The boy would be the youngest person at the detention center and locked up with some of the states’ most violent youth offenders. The defense has voiced concerns that his father's neo-Nazi beliefs could get him into trouble with others who are incarcerated there.

The 13-year old stayed for about six-weeks during the summer at one of the DJJ youth detention centers where he allegedly threw urine at another kid.

Soccio said despite the one incident during the evaluation period at DJJ, the boy has “held his own very well” and improved in school and participated in a chess club.

“They liked him and he appeared to like them,” he said. “I’m not sure if he still holds that position, but at one time he did.”

The 13-year old has been staying at Riverside County juvenile hall for the past two years. Both the prosecution and the defense agree the county doesn’t have the resources to keep a serious youth offender like him for an extended period of time.