A 13-year-old California boy, barely out of his pre-teens, has been sentenced to spend a minimum of seven years in juvenile incarceration for the murder of his father, three years ago, when the boy was only ten years old. The shocking story, reported on by CBS News Oct. 31, is yet another example of horrific violence committed by children.
When Joseph Hall was ten years old, he took a .357 Magnum revolver that belonged to his father, and while the 32-year-old Jeffrey Hall was sleeping off his recent drunkenness on the sofa, put the weapon to his father’s head and shot him dead. The boy pleaded guilty to second-degree murder.
Riverside Judge Jean R. Leonard ruled this week that Joseph is a threat to society and must be removed from the general population until he is at least 20 years old. With good behavior, the teen will be eligible for early parole at 18, and cannot be held past the age of 23.
Defense lawyers had argued that the boy needed treatment and counseling, not a prison cell, and said that Joseph was the victim of years of physical and mental abuse at the hands of his self-proclaimed Neo-Nazi father.
The elder Hall was a leader of a local chapter of the National Socialist Movement, and would hold rallies at his home in front of his young son.
“Attorneys for the boy have said he reacted after years of horrific abuse that left him with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, anger and fear issues, learning disabilities and other emotional problems,” says CBS.
However, prosecutors painted a far different portrait of the boy. While acknowledging the environment he was raised in, Riverside prosecutors say Joseph has a history of violent behavior, including a stabbing and choking attempt on two schoolteachers, stabbing his sister with a knife and hitting his Uncle over the head with intent to cause injury.
Despite Joseph’s troubled past and consistent expulsions from every school he has attended, Riverside County Chief Deputy District Attorney Michael Soccio developed a fondness of sorts for his client, and pushed to have him assigned into state facilities that would care for the boy and provide him with needed discipline and guidance.
“I have grown attached to him in an odd way. I enjoy watching him grow and change but I am convinced he has done better in a quasi-military penal environment,” Soccio said. “[Joseph] seems to like it, he knows what the rules are and what is expected and he is treated with dignity.”
Joseph testified that he killed his father because he had seen a television show where another young boy did the same and did not get in trouble. He said he was afraid he would have to choose between living with his father and his stepmother, who were in the midst of a divorce.
“A bad father did something to his kids and the kid did the exact same thing I did – he shot him,” Joseph said in a video recording of an interview played at his trial. “He told the truth and wasn't arrested and the cops believed him. He wasn't in trouble or anything. I thought maybe the exact same thing would happen to me.”