10-year-old accused of killing neo-Nazi father may pursue insanity defense, his attorney says [Updated]
An attorney for a 10-year-old boy charged with murder in the fatal shooting of his father, a local neo-Nazi activist, on Wednesday told a Riverside County Juvenile Court judge that the boy may pursue a defense of not guilty by reason of insanity.
The sandy-haired boy appeared in Juvenile Court shackled and wearing a bright orange shirt and khaki pants, with his stepmother, biological mother and grandmother sitting on a courtroom bench behind him. Judge Charles J. Koosed postponed the boy’s detention hearing for two weeks and ordered that he continue to be held at juvenile hall.
The boy has been charged as a juvenile for the shooting death of his father, Jeffrey R. Hall, a regional director for the National Socialist Movement. Hall was shot around 4 a.m. Sunday morning while on the living room couch. Detectives believe the shooting was an “intentional act."
Detectives with the Riverside Police Department said there were no reports of an argument or other incident before the shooting, and police have never responded to any domestic disturbance calls at the Hall residence. Hall, 32, has five children including two from a previous marriage.
According to court records the boy had a history of aggression and violence after his parents went through a bitter divorce, with both Hall and his ex-wife, Leticia Neal of Spokane, Wash., accusing each other of abusing and neglecting the children. Hall was granted full custody of the children.
Deputy Dist. Atty. Ambrosio E. Rodriguez said state laws protecting juveniles prohibits him from discussing the details of the case, but said the decision to charge the 10-year-old with murder was weighed by the agency’s leadership. Until the boy’s detention hearing is concluded, Rodriguez said he was also prohibited from discussing whether the boy ultimately would be prosecuted as a juvenile or an adult, or why such a serious charge was filed against him.
“To say this was a difficult decision is an understatement," Rodriquez said after Wednesday’s hearing. “Thank God patricide is not something that happens as a daily occurrence."
[Updated, 4:20 p.m.: District attorney's spokesman John Hall said Wednesday that because of the boy's age he could not be tried as an adult so the case would remain in juvenile court.]
During the hearing, public defender Matthew Hardy told the judge that he expected the case to be a “long haul" and that the defense was considering an insanity defense. No plea was entered on Wednesday.
“There are some very, very difficult issues in this case," Hardy told the judge.
Neal told the judge that she may hire a private attorney to represent her son. She declined to comment after the hearing.
Last year Neal filed for custody of her two children with Hall, the 10-year-old boy and his 9-year-old sister, saying she was concerned about the children’s well-being because of the father’s affiliation with the neo-Nazi group. Hall had opposed the motion, saying that Neal had had no contact with the children for six years.
After Wednesday’s hearing the boy requested a visitation with this stepmother and grandmother.
-- Phil Willon in Riverside
Photo: Jeff Hall holds a neo-Nazi flag while standing at Sycamore Highlands Park near his home in Riverside in October 2010. Credit: Sandy Huffaker / Associated Press