The trial of a 12-year-old boy in California who murdered his neo-Nazi father two years ago has revealed shocking and illuminating information about the boy’s upbringing and mindset.
In testimony that was meant to shed light on the conditions that led to the unusual crime, a psychologist claimed this week that the boy’s father – an unemployed plumber who was a regional leader of the National Socialist Movement – regularly abused his son. The abuse included belt whippings, forcing the boy to engage in demeaning behavior and possibly even sexual abuse.
The alleged mistreatment “started shortly after his birth and never let up,” Dr. Robert Geffen testified in court on behalf of the boy’s defense. The psychologist contended that the persistent abuse caused the boy to start seriously acting out, inflicting pain on his classmates, stabbing teachers and students with a pencil and attempting to choke a teacher while just eight years old. “You could have predicted it,” Geffen stated. “That’s what he grew up with. That’s what he obviously learned.”
In an obvious indication of his troubled nature and instability, the boy was a student at up to ten schools over a four-year period. California’s Child Protective Services communicated with the boy or his family almost 24 times, Geffen said, but “there was virtually no adequate intervention to remove him from an abusive environment.”
The boy has been charged with murder and is being tried as a juvenile in the May 2011 death of his father, Jeffrey Hall, who was shot in the head with a .357 Magnum at point-blank range while sleeping on a sofa in his home.
If the charges of murder are vindicated, the boy could well remain behind bars until he is age 23. This would occur if the judge in the case determines that the boy knew his actions were wrong when the shooting was committed. The boy’s name is not being publicized due to his status as a juvenile.
The prosecution is arguing that the child was fully aware that his actions were wrong. According to the prosecution, Hall’s background as a white supremacist was not a contributing factor to the shooting, and the child had been known to behave violently before Hall joined the national Socialist Movement.
In response, the boy’s public defender has argued that the child’s sense of right and wrong was muddled by the home atmosphere he was raised in, where guns were consistently on hand and the boy had to suffer frequent beatings. Geffen testified that when he initially spoke with the boy at length last year, he was “very preoccupied with violence and hurting and killing people.”
Separately, Chief Deputy District Attorney Michael Soccio sounded a note of alarm about strips of bed sheets that were discovered last week during a search of the boy’s prison cell. “He’s attempted to strangle people in the past,” Soccio said, adding that inmates have utilized sheet strips “to escape, to hang themselves, or to kill somebody.” And Dr. Geffen commented that, if the boy ever had an issue with another person, his “view was to go out and kill those people.”
In other revelations that have unfolded as the case has developed, it was learned that the boy informed police detectives who questioned him that he reasoned he might not be held accountable for murdering his neo-Nazi father based on a television program he had viewed. “A bad father did something to his kids and the kid did the exact same thing I did – he shot him,” the boy stated in a videotaped interview with detectives. “He told the truth and wasn’t arrested and the cops believed him. He wasn’t in trouble or anything. I thought maybe the exact same thing would happen to me,” the boy said with regard to the episode of “Criminal Minds” that had apparently influenced his behavior.
The prosecution is positing that the boy killed his father to prevent him from divorcing his stepmother, while the defense is claiming the stepmother manipulated the boy to shoot Hall because she believed he might abandon her for another woman.
In the video, the boy says that he wanted to put a permanent stop to his father’s abuse, as well as to ensure he would be able to live with his stepmother because he thought the couple was preparing to divorce. He said he was frightened and angry about his father’s violent temper and threats. “I thought it would be a good idea to end it – to shoot my dad in the head,” the boy stated in the video. “I shot him because I was upset. He was always taking off. He also hit me.”
The boy also said that he thought his father would recover from the shooting. “I was choosing who should leave and I chose my dad,” the boy said. “I thought he would get out of the hospital and maybe we could go back to being friends and start over.”
The boy’s younger sister emotionally testified earlier in the day that her brother had plotted the shooting several days beforehand. She was sleeping when he committed the act, but she said her brother apprised her of his plans four days earlier. “Did you know ahead of time that someone planned to shoot your father?” Chief Deputy District Attorney Michael Soccio asked the sister. “Yes,” she said softly. The girl, who is now 11, further testified that she lied to authorities that their stepmother told the boy to shoot Hall.
Soccio insisted that the white supremacist beliefs of Hall had no bearing on the shooting, and that the boy’s history of violence went back to his first day of kindergarten when he stabbed a teacher with a pencil.
The defense counters that the boy was heavily influenced by being raised in an abusive and racist environment where he was taught to shoot guns, attended Nazi rallies and was taken to the border once on a mission to learn how to keep Mexicans out of the United States.By Fern Sidman
Reaching out to the beleaguered victims of Hurricane Sandy with direct and immediate aid, “Israel Flying Aid,” the Israeli global humanitarian organization which was first to arrive in Haiti in the aftermath of the 2010 earthquake, has been distributing large supplies of gas to hospitals, as well as food, batteries and generators to those in the tri-state area who were adversely impacted by the “storm of the century.”
According to a report by the Israel News Agency, Israel Flying Aid North American Operations Manager Moti Kahana said, “We have many years of disaster relief experience. Israel Flying Aid, in having Israelis on the ground here in New York and New Jersey, has made Israel the only foreign nation to provide humanitarian assistance to the U.S. during this disaster. We are working in coordination with FEMA, local police, the American Red Cross and Jewish communities in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.” Kahana added that most of the efforts had been donated by Israelis living in the United States and this enabled gas to be distributed to hospitals in New York and New Jersey.
Joel Leyden, an Israel Flying Aid Operations Specialist who had worked in direct disaster relief efforts in Haiti, has been coordinating the distribution of both food and generators to those in storm-ravaged Long Island with the help of the Greater Hartford Jewish Community.
“The food had been donated by Panera Bread and Dunkin Donuts in the city of Hartford in the Manchester, Connecticut area. This food was distributed to hurricane victims on the south shore of Long Island, the Nassau County Police, the Freeport Fire Department and the Red Cross Shelter which is set up at Nassau Community College,” said Leyden. He added that when they spotted hundreds of people lined up at gas stations to pour gas into their containers, they would get out of their cars and feed these people as they waited. “The donuts and bread created smiles and positive moods which replaced the trauma of suffering in the dark and cold,” Leyden said.
Founded in 2005 by Gal Lousky, an experienced volunteer rescue worker and humanitarian relief provider, Israel Flying Aid meets the pressing needs of people suffering in disaster areas around the world. As a non-profit, volunteer-based, non-governmental organization (NGO), the objectives of the IFA are to provide humanitarian lifesaving aid and succor to communities in areas stricken by natural disaster or territorial conflicts.
According to their mission statement, the IFA has a three-pronged emergency assistance program that includes food, medical aid and counseling for those suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. Providing supplies and assistance for every individual in need, the IFA transcends political differences, prejudices, race, nationality and creed and reaches out on behalf of the Jewish people in the spirit of peace, love, and compassion.
Thus far, 48 people have perished in the New York area as a result of the historic devastation wrought by the “Frankenstorm,” known as Hurricane Sandy. Thousands of homes were destroyed and millions were left without power in New York, New Jersey and southern Connecticut when monumental storm surges caused by Sandy slammed the northeast with 100 mph winds on October 29th.
“As Israelis, we know how to react to such disasters,” Moti Kahana declared. “We are trained in the military to be prepared and ready at a moment’s notice. This edge is what enables us to go places where others don’t and get the job done with little or no bureaucracy. We are proud to help the New York, New Jersey and Connecticut communities. These are people who have provided assistance to Israel throughout the years. What we critically need now is donations for our staff and volunteers to continue their lifesaving efforts as temperatures drop and people critically need generators and fuel for heat.”
On Sunday, November 4th, the Chabad-Lubavitch Midtown Manhattan branch dispatched a busload of young professionals to assist with relief efforts on Long Island. According to a report on Israel National News, the volunteers helped hurricane victims with cleaning sand and other waterlogged debris that was swept into their homes. As the mercury dips in the New York area, other Chabad teams were tasked with distributing such supplies as batteries, socks, warm kosher food and other essentials to those in need, and a third set of volunteers set up a mobile soup kitchen where people gathered for nutritional sustenance in the disaster zone.
Departing from their Crown Heights headquarters in Brooklyn on Sunday, another busload of Chabad-Lubavitch volunteers headed off to such hard hit areas as Coney Island, Brighton Beach and Manhattan Beach to provide similar relief to their neighbors.
A number of Chabad-Lubavitch emissaries were also victims of Sandy’s wrath, losing their homes and all of their possessions, and it has been reported that tens of thousands of dollars’ worth of holy books, furniture and supplies in Chabad centers throughout New York and New Jersey were lost due to the storm. Never ones to be deterred from performing acts of kindness and charity, despite the tragedy that they suffered, Chabad rabbis were out in force last week and on Sunday, going door-to-door in areas affected by the storm to provide food and water, as well as spiritual and emotional support.
In order to accomplish the goal of baking fresh challahs for Shabbat, Rabbi Mendy Kasowitz of the Chabad-Lubavitch Center of Essex County, New Jersey, donated his own generator to the local kosher bakery. “The community needs challahs,” Kasowitz said simply in an interview with Chabad.org just prior to Shabbat. By midnight on Thursday evening, there were a few hundred loaves ready to be distributed, and Kasowitz had plans in place for volunteers to deliver them to homebound seniors stuck in their darkened homes. Others were sent to community-wide Shabbat dinners where power had already been restored, thus ensuring that hundreds of Jews began Friday evening with at least some semblance of a “normal” Shabbat meal.