Boy who killed neo-Nazi dad was abused, psychologist says
A 10-year-old boy who killed his white supremacist father grew up an in abusive environment that included belt-whippings, eating off the floor and possible sexual abuse, a psychologist testified Monday.
The alleged abuse "started shortly after his birth and never let up" defense-contracted psychologist Robert Geffen testified in court, the Riverside Press-Enterprise reported. As a result, Geffen said, the boy started hurting his schoolmates, stabbing teachers and students with a pencil and attempting to choke a teacher at the age of 8.
"You could have predicted it," Geffen testified. "That's what he grew up with. That's what he obviously learned."
The boy attended nine or 10 schools within four years and California's Child Protective Services contacted the boy or his family nearly two dozen times, Geffen said, but "there was virtually no adequate intervention to remove him from an abusive environment."
The boy, now 12, has been charged with murder and is being tried as a juvenile in the May 2011 death of his father, Jeffrey Hall, a regional director of the National Socialist Movement who was shot in the head as he slept.
If the murder allegations are found true, the boy could remain in custody until he is 23. For that to happen, a judge must find the boy knew his actions were wrong at the time of the shooting. The Times is not publishing the boy’s name because he is a juvenile.
The prosecution has argued that the child knew his actions were wrong. Hall's white supremacist background did not play a factor in the shooting, and the child was violent prior to Hall's membership in the National Socialist Movement, the prosecution said.
But the boy's public defender has argued that the child's sense of right and wrong was clouded by the household he grew up in, where guns were easily accessible and the boy endured frequent beatings.
Geffen testified that when he first interviewed the boy last year, he was "very preoccupied with violence and hurting and killing people."
Also on Monday, Chief Deputy Dist. Atty. Michael Soccio expressed concern over strips of bedsheet found last week during a search of the boy's cell.
"He's attempted to strangle people in the past," Soccio said, adding people have used sheet strips "to escape, to hang themselves, or to kill somebody."
If he had a problem with someone, Geffen said, the boy's "view was to go out and kill those people."
— Kate Mather and Andrew Khouri
Photo: Jeffrey Hall in October 2010 near his home in Riverside. Credit: Sandy Huffaker / Associated Press.