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Boy killed neo-Nazi dad to 'stop the violence' attorney says

Sandy Huffaker / AP file

Jeff Hall holds a neo-Nazi flag while standing at Sycamore Highlands Park near his home in Riverside, Calif., on Oct. 22, 2010. Hall's 10-year-old son is accused of murdering his father, a 32-year-old plumber, at their home.


Attorneys finished their closing arguments Wednesday morning in the case of a 12-year-old boy who admitted to shooting and killing his father -- a leader in the National Socialist Movement -- as the Southern California man slept on the family's couch in May 2011.

The Riverside boy, 10 at the time of the shooting, faces a murder charge that the defense argued Wednesday should be downgraded to a voluntary manslaughter charge. Defense attorneys claimed domestic violence, child abuse and violent video games "neurologically damaged" the boy and programmed him to be violent.


Attorney Matthew Hardy told the court the boy was trying to protect his family from his father, Jeffrey Hall -- the regional director of a neo-Nazi organization. He claimed the boy's mother encouraged him to kill the father.

"(The boy) saw what seemed to be a simple solution to his problems," Hardy said. "Stop the violence.

"He certainly did not know the wrongfulness of his actions."

The boy did not testify on the stand during the trial, which began in October. A recorded interview with a detective was shown in court.

If found responsible for Hall's death, the boy could remain in juvenile custody until his early 20s.

Prosecutors, who called the shooting a "case that shocks the conscience," claimed the slaying was not related to the father's neo-Nazi beliefs.

During the trial, prosecutors attempted to portray the boy as having a history that led to "cold, calculated murder." The boy was kicked out of as many as nine elementary schools for bad behavior, prosecutors said.

He allegedly stabbed a teacher with a pencil once and choked another with a telephone cord.

"It's time for (the boy) to learn that the legal system works," said Deputy District Attorney Michael Soccio, referring to the past cases. "It is beyond obviously clear that (the boy) knew what he was doing was wrong at the time of the killing.

"(He) is talked about almost as if he's an idiot. That may be a good defense in court, but it's just not true."

The boy's sister testified during the trial that the boy told her she planned to kill the father. Prosecutors played an audio recording on which the boy's sister said, "I thought he would hit him in the stomach."