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13-Year-Old Boy Sent to Juvenile Correctional Facility for Killing Father


Monday, November 5th, 2012
Issue 45, Volume 16.
SILVIO J. PANTA
Special to the Valley News


RIVERSIDE - A 13-year-old Riverside boy who fatally shot his drunken neo-Nazi father as he slept will serve his sentence at a state juvenile correctional facility, a judge ruled today.

Joseph Hall fatally shot 32-year-old Jeff Russell Hall as the man slept on a sofa in the living room of his family home in May 2011. In January, Riverside County Superior Court Judge Jean Leonard ruled that Joseph committed the murder and planned it ahead of time.

Prosecutors and defense attorneys, however, disagreed over where the boy should serve out his sentence, with the prosecution arguing during a three- day hearing for a state-operated detention center and the defense calling for an alternative-placement center with more educational and treatment programs in Utah.

After today's ruling, Deputy District Attorney Mike Soccio said the boy cannot stay in the state facility past age 23, and he could be eligible for parole in seven years or earlier depending on his behavior. If he had been an adult, Joseph could have faced 40 years to life in prison for the second-degree murder conviction.

"This has been the hardest case I've prosecuted," Soccio said.

Defense attorney Punam Grewal decried Leonard's decision, calling it a "miscarriage of justice" that ignores the overwhelming evidence of Joseph's disabilities and the 10 years he spent in an abusive household. Her youthful client was also overcharged, Grewal said.

Sending Joseph to a state correctional facility will only expose him to gang members and other hardened felons, according to Grewal, who vowed to file an appeal.

"This is an antiquated court," she said. "(Leonard) got it wrong. We knew she would get it wrong. ... It's a horrible outcome."

Grewal told the court during her closing argument Wednesday that Joseph would benefit most from being in the Copper Hills Youth Center in West Jordan, Utah, a "structured" environment where his mental health, emotional and educational needs can all be addressed.

But Soccio argued that the O.H. Close Youth Correctional Facilty in Stockon, a state-operated detention center that's home to around 240 adolescent offenders, is where Joseph belongs.

During today's hearing, Soccio asked the judge for permission to visit Joseph while he's serving his sentence, saying it was hard not to get attached to the boy.

Joseph was just shy of his 11 birthday when he took Jeff Hall's .357 revolver, crept to the downstairs sofa where the drunken man was sleeping and shot him in the predawn hours of May 1, 2011.

During the boy's trial last year, Soccio recalled prior acts of violence that Joseph perpetrated, including choking a teacher, stabbing his younger sister and hitting his uncle in the head with a club.

"He didn't like people who told him he couldn't do things," Soccio said.

Deputy Public Defender Matthew Hardy countered that Joseph suffered from a neurological disorder tied to his mother's alcohol consumption when she was pregnant with him and had been shown from an early age that "violence was an acceptable way to solve problems."

According to trial testimony, Jeff Hall had gone out drinking on the night of the shooting and later got into a verbal altercation with his wife -- and Joseph's stepmother -- Krista McCary, telling her he wanted a divorce. The woman openly despaired about what might happen to her and Joseph's stepbrothers and sisters if Hall walked out on them, according to testimony.

The boy's paternal grandmother, JoAnn Becker, said Joseph was also a "victim" in the case. She wrote in a statement read in court Wednesday that the only way Hall's death "can make any sense to us is if Joseph gets the help he so desperately needs."


Attorney: Child Who Killed Dad Needs Special Care

Paul Young

Special to the Valley News

RIVERSIDE - A Riverside County judge today will issue a ruling on where a 13-year-old boy who killed his neo-Nazi father should be confined for the next decade.

Joseph Hall, 13, fatally shot 32-year-old Jeff Russell Hall as the man slept on a sofa in the living room of his family home in May 2011. Last January, Riverside County Superior Court Judge Jean Leonard ruled that Joseph committed the murder and planned it ahead of time.

Leonard declined to sentence Joseph until she'd heard from the prosecution and defense on possible options for the boy's placement. Hearings on the matter got underway Monday and concluded Wednesday.

In her closing statement yesterday, defense attorney Punam Grewal argued that Joseph would benefit most from being in a "structured" environment where his mental health, emotional and educational needs can all be addressed.

"He needs treatment now, and he's not getting it," Grewal said. "We're running behind. Mental health treatment is the issue for Joseph. It's his life jacket."

According to the attorney, placing the 13-year-old back into the California Department of Juvenile Justice system risks depriving him of the resources that would be essential during his 10-year confinement, including a special education program that emphasizes communication skills, which Grewal said the child desperately lacks.

Grewal said at this stage in his life, Joseph can only handle "baby steps" that lead to "social and emotional development." The attorney noted that his severe attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder effectively makes him a disabled person under federal guidelines, and placing him in a state-run facility without the appropriate accommodations would be a violation of his civil rights.

"The evidence is overwhelming that this child will not benefit from going to DJJ. If he does go, it's going to have unforeseeable consequences," Grewal said.

She asked Leonard to consider placing him at a private facility, the Copper Hills Youth Center in West Jordan, UT, which indicated it would accept him, or simply turning him over to the Riverside County Department of Child Protective Services for placement.

Chief Deputy District Attorney Mike Soccio argued that the O.H. Close Youth Correctional Facility in Stockton, a state-operated detention center that's home to around 240 adolescent offenders, is where Joseph belongs.

"It's the only facility that exists that meets his needs," Soccio said. "It has everything single thing that the defense is asking for. He did well while he was there (this summer). They liked him there. It's a small campus."

Soccio agreed that Joseph needs structure, but with an emphasis on discipline.

"He's a risk to others and himself," the prosecutor said. "He's been attacking teachers since he was 4 years old. Public safety has to be part of the plan."

Soccio said that for the judge to put Joseph under the supervision of child welfare workers -- one of the options posed by the defense -- she would have to be willing to vacate her ruling in January that Joseph committed a murder.

Joseph was just shy of his 11th birthday when he took Jeff Hall's .357 revolver, crept to the downstairs sofa where the drunken man was sleeping and shot him in the predawn hours of May 1, 2011.

During the boy's trial last year, Soccio recalled prior acts of violence that Joseph perpetrated, including choking a teacher, stabbing his younger sister and hitting his uncle in the head with a club.

"He didn't like people who told him he couldn't do things," Soccio said.

Deputy Public Defender Matthew Hardy countered that Joseph suffered from a neurological disorder tied to his mother's alcohol consumption when she was pregnant with him and had been shown from an early age that "violence was an acceptable way to solve problems."

According to trial testimony, Jeff Hall had gone out drinking on the night of the shooting and later got into a verbal altercation with his wife -- and Joseph's stepmother -- Krista McCary, telling her he wanted a divorce. The woman openly despaired about what might happen to her and Joseph's stepbrothers and sisters if Hall walked out on them, according to testimony.

Attorney: Child Who Killed Dad Needs Special Care

RIVERSIDE - A Riverside boy who killed his neo-Nazi father has a history of anti-social behavior and requires "social and emotional development" in a setting outside the juvenile correctional system, his attorney said Advertisement
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today, while a prosecutor argued that a state facility is the only one equipped to handle the teen.

Joseph Hall, now 13, fatally shot 32-year-old Jeff Russell Hall as he slept on a sofa in the living room of the family's home in May 2011. Last January, Riverside County Superior Court Judge Jean Leonard ruled that Joseph committed the murder and planned it ahead of time.

Leonard declined to sentence Joseph until she'd heard from the prosecution and defense on possible options for the boy's placement. Hearings on the matter got underway Monday and concluded today.

In her closing statement, defense attorney Punam Grewal argued that Joseph would benefit most from being in a "structured" environment where his mental health, emotional and educational needs can all be addressed.

"He needs treatment now, and he's not getting it," Grewal said. "We're running behind. Mental health treatment is the issue for Joseph. It's his life jacket."

According to the attorney, placing her client back into the California Department of Juvenile Justice system risks depriving him of the resources that would be essential during his 10-year confinement, including a special education program that emphasizes communication skills, which Grewal said the child desperately lacks.

"It's one of the most basic qualities necessary for integration into the community," the attorney said. "Without the ability to communicate in a manner that is consistent with the community, he could fall back into a cycle of problematic behavior." Grewal said at this stage in his life, Joseph can only handle "baby steps" that lead to "social and emotional development." The youth's severe attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder effectively makes him a disabled person under federal guidelines, and placing him in a state-run facility without the appropriate accommodations would be a violation of his civil rights, she said.

"The evidence is overwhelming that this child will not benefit from going to DJJ. If he does go, it's going to have unforeseeable consequences," Grewal said.

She asked Leonard to consider placing him at the Copper Hills Youth Center in West Jordan, Utah, a private facility that indicated it would accept him, or simply turning him over to the Riverside County Department of Child Protective Services for placement.

Chief Deputy District Attorney Mike Soccio argued that the O.H. Close Youth Correctional Facility in Stockton, a state-operated detention center that's home to around 240 adolescent offenders, is where Joseph belongs, and where he showed some progress while housed there over the summer.

"It's the only facility that exists that meets his needs," Soccio said. "It has every single thing that the defense is asking for. He did well while he was there. They liked him there. It's a small campus." Soccio agreed that Joseph needs structure, but with an emphasis on discipline.

"He's a risk to others and himself," the prosecutor said. "He's been attacking teachers since he was 4 years old. Public safety has to be part of the plan."

Soccio said that for the judge to put Joseph under the supervision of child welfare workers -- one of the options posited by the defense -- she would have to be willing to vacate her ruling that Joseph committed a murder.

Leonard will announce her decision on placement during a hearing tomorrow afternoon.

Joseph was just shy of his 11th birthday when he took his father's .357 revolver, crept to the downstairs sofa where the drunken man was sleeping and shot him in the predawn hours of May 1, 2011.

During the boy's trial in January, Soccio recalled prior acts of violence that Joseph perpetrated, including choking a teacher, stabbing his younger sister and hitting his uncle in the head with a club.

"He didn't like people who told him he couldn't do things," Soccio said.

Deputy Public Defender Matthew Hardy countered that Joseph suffered from a neurological disorder tied to his mother's alcohol consumption when she was pregnant with him and had been shown from an early age that "violence was an acceptable way to solve problems."

According to trial testimony, Jeff Hall had gone out drinking on the night of the shooting and later got into an argument with Joseph's stepmother, Krista McCary, telling her he wanted a divorce. The woman openly despaired about what might happen to her and Joseph's stepbrothers and sisters if Hall walked out on them, according to testimony.

Judge bars prosecution witness from testifying in 12-year-old boy's murder trial of Nazi father

RIVERSIDE - A psychologist called by the prosecution to testify today as to the sanity of a 12-year-old boy who fatally shot his neo-Nazi father in the head was barred from addressing the issue by the judge presiding in the case.

Dr. Craig Rath, a 30-year mental health practitioner based in San Bernardino, was asked to give an expert opinion regarding the ability of Joseph Hall to distinguish between reality and fantasy.

On May 1, 2011, the youth killed 32-year-old Jeff Russell Hall as the white supremacist slept on a sofa in the family's Louder Court home in Riverside. Joseph told investigators he was tired of his father beating him.

The defendant has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity.

Rath was slated today to say why he believed Joseph was sane at the time of the attack, but the defense objected to the witness's testimony because he had already testified regarding whether the boy was competent to stand trial.

Riverside County Superior Court Judge Jean Leonard ruled that Rath could not serve as an expert on both elements of the case and gave Chief Deputy District Attorney Mike Soccio time to find another psychologist.

If convicted of first-degree murder and a sentence-enhancing gun use allegation, Joseph could be imprisoned until his 25th birthday. The non-jury bench trial got under way on Oct. 30. Last week, Joseph's stepmother, 27-year-old Krista McCary, testified that she witnessed her late husband slap and kick Joseph on multiple occasions.

The witness, who described herself as a mother to Joseph from the time he was around 2 years old, pleaded guilty in August 2011 to child endangerment and was sentenced to four months in jail and probation. She and Jeff Hall had four children together. Joseph was the product of a prior marriage but was placed in his father's custody.

According to Riverside police, Joseph used his father's .357-caliber Rossi revolver to shoot him in the head as the victim slept on a living room couch.

McCary testified that county child welfare workers visited the family's home on multiple occasions between 2003 and 2010. Department of Public Social Services investigators responded to complaints alleging that Joseph was being abused physically, even sexually. Another time, DPSS case workers investigated whether Jeff Hall was smoking marijuana in front of his children and had a home-made whiskey still on the premises, according to testimony.

Unexplained marks on Joseph were also investigated, as well as complaints that the child was mentally disabled and not being properly treated for the disability.

McCary acknowledged that the boy had a "learning disability" but was not handicapped. The witness said that on the night of the shooting she went to bed early and locked Jeff Hall out of the house after receiving a string of caustic text messages threatening divorce. The victim apparently entered the house through an open window and passed out, drunk, on the downstairs sofa.

According to McCary, she never heard Joseph go through the master bedroom and retrieve his father's pistol from the walk-in closet. She described the ensuing gunshot as a "crash." The boy confessed to the killing during an interview hours later with Detective Greg Rowe.


 

1 comments

Comment Profile ImageWHAT?!!!!
Comment #1 | Monday, Mar 4, 2013 at 7:15 am
Where was CPS when this kid was getting abused by both parents repeatedly?????

If I were a relative of this kid I would sue CPS for not doing their job. Just another case of a kid who would have been ok if CPS actually removed children from their abusers. But NO!! In this case THEY PLACED this kid with his ABUSIVE FATHER?!

My God, I hope more people start suing CPS for their deliberate ignoring of children who are abused, then PLACED with their abuser!!! WHAT?! No wonder this kid shot his pos Neo Nazi father who shouldn't have ever been granted custody in the first place. SUE CPS!!!

Article Comments are contributed by our readers, and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Valley News staff. The name listed as the author for comments cannot be verified; Comment authors are not guaranteed to be who they claim they are.

 

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