A trial beginning in California on Monday will try to assess what exactly happened just before dawn on May 1, 2011, when 10-year-old Joseph Hall went to his family’s living room armed with a revolver, pointed it at his father’s head, who was sleeping on the couch, and shot and killed him, the New York Times reported on Sunday.
Joseph’s exact motive for the shooting is complicated not only by his age, but the fact that his father, Jeff Hall, was a neo-Nazi. As the Times is reporting, the prosecutor, Michael Soccio, believes the child’s actions have nothing to do with Nazism, but rather because his father punished and spanked him a day before the killing.
“’What he did, had it been done by anybody older, there would be no doubt that it was a murder,” said Mr. Soccio, the chief deputy district attorney in Riverside County. “It’s planned. It’s premeditated. It was carried out in a cold, killing fashion. It is a murder.’”
Mathew J. Hardy, the public defender representing Joseph Hall, claims his client suffers from mental and psychological disorders and suffered abuse at home. According to the Times, Mr. Hardy believes “he’s been conditioned to violence…He thought what he was doing was right. And while this may be hard for other people to understand, in his mind, in a child’s mind, if he thought it was right, or at least didn’t think it was wrong, then he cannot be held responsible.”
According to the New York Times report, if Riverside County Superior Court Judge Jean Leonard finds Joseph Hall (now 12 years old) guilty, he will be the youngest person ever to be held in a fenced-in facilities operated by California’s Department of Juvenile Justice, which holds around 900 of the state’s most grave juvenile offenders.
According to the California’s penal code children under 14 cannot be charged with a crime without clear proof that they knew what they were doing was wrong, the Times reported.
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