A California judge will decide today whether a 12-year-old boy is guilty of murdering his white supremacist father while he slept.
The case is being heard without a jury before Riverside Superior Court Judge Jean Leonard, who is expected to read the verdict at a midmorning hearing.
According to The Associated Press, the key issue is whether the boy, who was 10-years-old when the crime took place, knew what he was doing was wrong and whether it was premeditated.
The prosecution has argued that the child killed his father to stop him from separating from his stepmother — who, previously said she had killed Jeff Hall, 32 — but later retracted her statement. Ultimately, she was not charged in the case.
The boy’s younger sister also helped the prosecution’s case when she claimed the boy plotted to shoot his father days before.
Hall, a regional leader of the National Socialist Movement, was shot at point-blank range with a .357 Magnum while he slept on a sofa in the family home, said The Huffington Post.
On the defense’s side, attorney Matthew Hardy has said the boy grew up in an brutally abusive home setting and learned it was acceptable to kill people perceived as a threat.
Hardy had argued that the boy thought shooting his father would put an end to the violence he endured and that he was born with problems because his mother used methamphetamine, marijuana, and heroin prenatally.
Hardy previously quoted the boy as saying, “”I thought if I shoot him maybe he won’t be able to hurt us,'” adding, that he was almost genetically programmed to commit violence,” Mercury News reports.
In a videotaped interview with police, the boy admitted that he didn’t think he would get in trouble because he saw an episode of Criminal Minds in which a similarly abusive father was killed by a child but wasn’t arrested.
The prosecution has insisted that Hall’s white supremacist beliefs had nothing to do with the crime and should not be used as a mitigating factor. They also noted the boy had a history of violence that went back to kindergarten when he stabbed a teacher with a pencil.
Of Hall, who frequented Klu Klux Klan meets and took his son along, the prosecution previously said:
“The boy was given his love and consideration.The one person we seem not to be concerned about is the victim because he chose to join the National Socialist movement. Suddenly he’s a non-person. But he was a loving father.”
Hardy said he hopes that if his his client is convicted he won’t be sent to a juvenile facility but placed in private rehabilitation where therapy, medical treatment, and educational schooling will be available.
The boy cannot be named in reporting for legal reasons.