A 10-year-old boy shot and killed his neo-Nazi father Jeffrey Hall, but the dad's white supremacist beliefs had nothing to do with the homicide, a prosecutor told a judge Tuesday.
"He would have shot his father if he was a member of the Peace and Freedom Party. It doesn't matter the political affiliation," the prosecutor said as the boy's trial got underway in Riverside, Calif., according to The Press-Enterprise.
The boy, now 12, faces an allegation of murder as a juvenile. What does that mean for the boy's fate?
Under California law, anyone under 18 who commits a crime is tried as a juvenile in delinquency court. However, if a defendant is at least 14 and accused of murder or a serious or violent offense like an armed robbery or a sex offense, then he can be tried as an adult.
In this case, because the boy was 10 when he allegedly killed his father Jeffrey Hall, an outspoken leader of the Southern California National Socialist Movement, he cannot be tried as an adult.
There are some major differences between adult court and juvenile court in California. For example, charges are called "allegations" in juvenile court, and not-guilty pleas are called "denials." Juvenile courts are also supposed to focus on rehabilitation, as opposed to adult courts' focus on punishment.
You can learn more in this Juvenile Delinquency Court Orientation Video by the California Judicial Branch:
If convicted of murder as a juvenile, the boy will be designated a ward of the state. He will then be held in a state facility, either a juvenile correctional facility or a youth camp, until he is at least 23 years old, the Press-Enterprise reports.
While the boy has admitted to the killing, he is denying the allegation of murder by reason of insanity. To prove insanity in California, a defendant must generally show he did not know what he was doing was wrong.
If the juvenile judge rejects the insanity defense, the boy's lawyer may try to bring it up again during sentencing, he told the Press-Enterprise. The trial is expected to last about two weeks, Los Angeles' KNBC-TV reports.
- Trial Begins For Boy Who Admitted to Shooting His Father, a Neo-Nazi Leader (Los Angeles' KNBC-TV)
- The Insanity Defense: How Insane is Enough? (FindLaw's Blotter)
- Juvenile Life Sentences Unconstitutional Without Parole (FindLaw's Decided)
- Browse Criminal Defense Lawyers by Location (FindLaw)