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Boy who shot neo-Nazi father doesn't testify as trial winds down

January 9, 2013 |  5:47 am

Closing arguments in the trial of a Riverside boy who shot and killed his neo-Nazi father two years ago were expected to begin Wednesday after the 12-year-old decided not to take the stand the day before.

Riverside County Superior Court Judge Jean P. Leonard must decide whether the boy knew it was wrong to shoot and kill his father as he slept on the family's living room couch in May 2011. If found responsible for the murder, the boy could remain in juvenile custody until he is 23.

The judge said she expected to release her ruling Monday.

The boy was 10 years old when he shot Jeffrey Hall, regional director of a neo-Nazi organization called the National Socialist Movement.

Testimony and evidence in the case, which began in October, revolved around the boy's upbringing and a family life steeped in the hatred and violence of the neo-Nazi movement, with psychologists focusing on whether those circumstances altered his capacity to realize that killing his father was wrong.

Chief Deputy Dist. Atty. Michael Soccio argued that the boy plotted to kill his father because of fears that Hall was about to divorce the boy's stepmother and break up the family. Soccio presented evidence that the boy expressed remorse within hours after the shooting.

Public defender Matthew Hardy focused on the boy's abusive home life, where gunplay and neo-Nazi gatherings were commonplace. Witnesses testified that Hall beat his son repeatedly, often in drunken or drug-addled rages.

If the judge rules that the boy did not comprehend that his actions were wrong, he would be set free. If she finds the boy responsible for the killing, a hearing would be held to determine where to place him.

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-- Phil Willon

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