Joseph Hall shot and killed his neo-Nazi father when he was just 10-years-old. Jeffrey Hall was shot at point-blank range in his own living room. The murder case has now sparked changes in how police officers interrogate children and the administration of Miranda rights in California.
Jeff Hall was shot by his son, now 15, on May 1, 2011. The fatal shooting took place around 4 a.m. after the neo-Nazi father arrived home from a meeting of the National Socialist Movement. The NSM is the largest neo-Nazi group in the United States, according to a Daily Mail report.
The younger Hall was convicted on second-degree murder charges for killing the elder Hall in 2013. Joseph was immediately sent to a juvenile detention facility and ordered to remain behind bars until he is 23-years-old. Earlier this year, the California State Senate introduced a law which would significantly change how the legal system deals with youthful offenders.
Any suspect under the age of 18 would be required to speak with either a parent, a legal guardian, or an attorney before waiving their Miranda rights before any interrogation could begin, the Washington Post reports.
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Joseph Hall shot his father in the head while he was sleeping on the couch. Jeffrey Hall reportedly immersed the boy in his neo-Nazi beliefs. Jeff Hall also reportedly took his young son with him to the Mexican border to “scout” for illegal immigrants coming across.
The 10-year-old killer is believed to have both witnessed and been subjected to the physical abuse Jeff Hall would levy whenever he felt the urge. When speaking with police officers after the murder, Joseph’s stepmother said her husband was on methamphetamines and would beat his son whenever he “got in his way” or otherwise disturbed him.
On the way to the police station after shooting his neo-Nazi father in the head, young Joseph reportedly told police officers he decided to kill his dad because he could no longer endure the constant beatings. The 10-year-old boy reportedly suffers from Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and is of below average intelligence.
Child Protective Services issued 23 reports about the living conditions inside the Hall household. None of the neglect and abuse claims were ever proven.
California State Senator, Ricardo Lara, was the author of the new youth offender legislation. Lara believes the law is necessary because “young people don’t know what they are agreeing to.” Senator Lara feels the law is both a humane and fair way to deal with children to ensure they are protected properly when they enter the first enter the criminal justice system.
“We have to update our laws to be realistic, to be sure that children have protection before they’re aggressively interrogated,” Senator Lara added.
Even though the Joseph Hall case sparked the debate over the rights of youthful offenders, he will not personally benefit from the legislation. The law was not retroactive, so children convicted of crimes before it was passed have no legal recourse now if they feel their Miranda rights were violated over a lack of comprehension.
Many legal experts and advocates for children have argued the new law would have made a big difference in the case if it has been passed before 2011. Juvenile Law Center and Human Rights Watch staffers are now questioning whether or not Joseph Hall even had his Miranda rights read to him at all.
“‘You’re dealing with a 10-year-old,’ Marsha Levick, law center co-founder, said… ‘Anytime you’re talking about a child that young involved in any crime and in this case, the most serious crime, what we’re concerned about is how does one establish guilt and blameworthiness.”
The little boy said he did not understand his Miranda rights when they were read to him, according to court records. During his first formal interrogation session inside the police station, the 10-year-old officially forfeited his right to remain silent. The police interview reportedly lasted for about an hour.
What do you think about the new California law prompted by the case of Joseph Hall killing his neo-Nazi father?
[Image via Jan S/Shutterstock.com]