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Saturday, May 11, 2024

The Jeff Hall Murder Case

     Jeff Hall, the 32-year-old head of a ragtag southern California chapter of the National Socialist Movement (NSM), a Neo-Nazi organization comprised of malcontents and fools, lived in Riverside, a suburban community east of Los Angeles. Hall resided with his second wife and five children from his first and second marriages. The unemployed plumber's helper associated with a band of losers like himself who regularly gathered at his two-story house to get drunk and stagger around in Nazi uniforms amid swastika banners and other indicia of skin-headed idiocy. To make sure that even the most casual observer could immediately recognize him as a disgruntled failure, Jeff Hall exhibited, on the back of his shaved had, a large tattoo featuring a cross and a skull.

     Instead of taking 10-year-old Joseph, Hall's oldest child and only boy, to baseball games and amusement parks, the father dragged his son to Neo-Nazi rallies and and other fascist gatherings. Mr. Hall once took Joseph to the Mexican border where he taught the kid how so spot illegal aliens. Hall occasionally patrolled the border wearing night-vision goggles and carrying an assault rifle.

     To compound his role as a lousy father, Jeff Hall physically and verbally abused his son. The child's teachers couldn't control him. As a result the boy had been expelled from nine schools in four years.  His first expulsion came when he was only five. He had a habit of stabbing teachers and students with a pencil. Since no school wanted the boy he had to be home-schooled by his parents. Child welfare workers visited the Hall residence 23 times between 2003 and 2010 but didn't see fit to remove the boy and his younger sisters from this environment. (You would think the massive portrait of Adolph Hitler over the mantle would have suggest a problem with this family.)

     Jeff Hall, following the contentious divorce from Joseph's mother, married Krista McCary. The second marriage was on the rocks because Jeff had a girlfriend and had informed Krista that he wanted a divorce. 

     Just past midnight on Sunday, May 1, 2011, Jeff Hall, after a night of drinking with his girlfriend, returned home to find that Krista had locked him out of the house. Hall found an open window, climbed into the dwelling and  fell asleep on the sofa.

     At four in the morning when young Joseph realized that his father was conked-out on the couch, the boy sprang into action. He retrieved a .357-caliber revolver of his father's closet, crept down the stairs and from a distance of a foot shot his father behind his left ear, killing him instantly. Krista McCary called 911.

     Nine days following the fatal shooting Riverside County prosecutor Michael Soccio charged Joseph Hall with criminal homicide. The boy would be tried as a juvenile and if convicted could be held in state custody until he turned 23.

     The youngster's murder trial got underway on October 30, 2012. In his opening statement, prosecutor Soccio said that the boy had killed his father to stop the abuse. Matthew Hardy, Joseph's defense attorney who had pleaded his client not guilty by reason of insanity, in speaking to the jurors, said, "If you were going to create a monster, if you were going to create a killer, what would you do? You'd put him in a house where there's domestic violence, child abuse, and racism." The defense attorney also floated the theory that his client's stepmother, Krista McCary, had manipulated the boy into killing his father because Mr. Hall was going to throw her out of the house.

     Riverside police officer Michael Foster, one of the first responders to the scene that night, testified that the boy told them what he had done to his father. Foster said, "He [the defendant] was sad about it, he wished he hadn't done it. He asked me about things like, 'do people get more than one life?' things like that. He wanted to know if [his father] was dead or if he just had injuries."

     Officer Robert Nonreal testified that one of the defendant's younger sisters had asked the boy why he hadn't shot his father in the stomach as planned.

     Krista McCary, the defendant's stepmother since the boy was two, took the stand and testified that on the day before the murder her husband had been at the house drinking with his Neo-Nazi buddies. After driving his guests home, Hall sent her several profanity-laced text messages telling her that he wanted a divorce. Mr. Hall also ordered his wife out of the house. (The prosecutor presented this line of testimony to establish one of the defendant's motives for the murder--to keep the family together.) McCary, who had initially informed the police that she had murdered Hall, explained on the stand that she had done this to protect her stepson.

     On the second day of testimony the prosecution played the video of Joseph Hall's rambling confession as he sat fidgeting in a chair wearing ankle chains. He explained to his interrogators that after watching a TV episode of "Criminal Minds" featuring a boy who had killed his abusive father and had not been arrested, he didn't think he would be punished for shooting his father. One of Joseph's younger sisters followed him to the stand with testimony that the defendant had planned four days to murder his dad.

     On Monday, November 5, 2012 the prosecution planed to put a San Bernardino psychologist on the stand to testify that the defendant, at the time he shot his father to death, was legally sane. The judge, because this witness had testified at a preliminary hearing that the boy was competent to stand trial, barred his appearance.

     After the prosecution rested its case the defense put a psychologist on the stand who testified that the boy had been bashed in the head as an infant. He had also been beaten with a belt, sexually abused and forced to eat off the floor. At this point in the trial the prosecution asked for and was granted a postponement until January 7, 2013. The state needed time to find another psychologist to evaluate the boy and testify that he was sane when he killed his father.

    On January 14, 2013 Riverside County Superior Judge Jean Leonard found the defendant legally responsible for his father's death. The judge, however, opted for the lesser charge of second-degree murder because she did not believe the killing had been premeditated. A few months later the judge sentenced the boy to ten years in a California juvenile facility. 

2 comments:

  1. I think there may be a book here...

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  2. It's sad because our system probably won't address the child's psychological needs and counseling to be given a chance of normalcy. Depending on his support, if any, will tell us if he comes out of prison better or worse than his father.
    I can't imagine as an adult killing another person, let alone what brought that child in his mind, to the point of killing another human being.

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