A 12-year-old boy in California has been convicted of second-degree murder after shooting dead his neo-Nazi father.
Joseph Hall, who was ten years old when he shot his father Jeff to death at point-blank range, could now be sentenced to a juvenile facility until he is 23, reports Reuters.
The complicated case centred on allegations the young boy suffered abuse and did not know right from wrong, rather than to prove guilt or innocence.
Superior Court Judge Jean Leonard said while delivering her verdict: “He was abused and neglected from the womb. The NSM [Nationalist Socialist Movement] taught him things a minor should not know about.”
Jeff Hall, 32, was a regional director with the NSM, which is a white separatist group.
The case was heard without a jury because of its nature and Judge Leonard believes the boy understood what he was doing.
“The minor chose his own way and made his own rules,” she said.
It had been alleged Joseph Hall should not be held responsible because of the abuse he had suffered and that his father’s activities had pre-conditioned him to violence.
However, prosecutors alleged Joseph Hall shot his father because he believed he was about to divorce his step-mother and break up the family. Joseph Hall lived with four siblings.
“This was a very difficult case to prosecute. I have very mixed emotions. There's a lot of sadness in it. Joseph is a little boy and his life has been very very sad,” Riverside County Deputy District Attorney Michael Soccio said.
"My position is that the NSM had very little if anything to do with the killing," Soccio said. "The question is, what do we do now?"
The verdict was described as a ‘tragedy’ by lead defence attorney Matthew Hardy.
“If we create a monster, I'm not saying Joseph is a monster but as a society if we create a monster we have some responsibility for what that monster does," he said.
“There can be no happy ending for our family,”Joseph Hall's grandmother, JoAnn Becker, told Reuters.