In May of 2011, 10-year-old Joseph Hall of Riverside, California took one if his father’s guns and shot his father, Jeff, in the head while Jeff slept. Jeff died immediately. Joseph then went to tell his stepmother, who called the police. The police arrived on the scene and took Joseph for questioning.
Police questioned Joseph for over an hour. The police offered Joseph his Miranda rights, which he waived. According to reports, Joseph asked the police how many lives people have. Also, according to records, Joseph told the police that he shot Jeff even before the police asked. Note that California does not require a child to attain legal advice before waiving his Miranda rights.
The murder case went to trial. The court ruled that Joseph was responsible for committing the murder and in 2013 sentenced him to 10 years in juvenile detention. The ruling was upheld by California courts, despite the irregularities.
The now-deceased Jeff Hall was an unemployed plumber who was very active in the National Socialist Movement, or NSM. The NSM is a racist neo-nazi organization. Hall spoke at many NSM rallies and patrolled the U.S.-Mexico border as a vigilante looking for illegal immigrants. Joseph often went with his father to patrols.
Jeff Hall was also very armed. According to investigators, he kept arms in house that were easily accessible to children. Joseph was able to shoot his father because of easy access to weapons.
Joseph Hall was the oldest child of Jeff Hall. After the murder, investigators found deplorable conditions in the house. There were beer bottles everywhere and the house was unsanitary. The bedrooms smelled of urine. Joseph grew up in that house.
Investigators also found that Jeff was abusive to Joseph. Testimony from Jeff’s wife portrayed Jeff as controlling and physically violent. Jeff frequently threw things and kicked people. Joseph bore many of that violence.
Joseph is also a special needs child. Joseph had much difficulty in school due to below-average intelligence and attention hyperactive deficit disorder, or ADHD.When Joseph did not get his way in school, he frequently had outbursts and would throw tantrums, which are not suitable for his age. The combination of an abusive father with extreme, violent views, deplorable conditions, and ADHD made life difficult for him.
In Texas, the juvenile system can be harsh on minors. In the 1990s, it was popular to have “adult crime and adult time,” meaning that minors who committed certain offenses were tried as adults and went to prison for life. This changed in the 2000s when the U.S. Supreme Court struck down many juvenile crime statutes. In Texas, currently, there is no life in prison but there is life with the possibility of parole after 40 years.
Had the Hall murder case occurred in Texas, Joseph Hall may be looking at 40 years in prison until the possibility of parole. This means that meaningful life for Joseph may not start until the age of 50. Joseph is appealing his sentence.
Accused of a crime? Contact the law firm of Christopher Abel, an experienced criminal defense attorney.
(image courtesy of Kevin Gent)