It’s impossible not to feel sympathy for that boy, Joseph Hall, whose white supremacist father Jeffrey Hall had allegedly threatened to kill the entire family. And it is very hard to feel sympathy for Jeffrey Hall.
But GQ’s Amy Wallace paints a complicated picture of young Joseph, in a story that highlights the difficulty of punishing a child who was capable of shooting his father at close range while he slept. Joseph got a sentence of 40 years, but under California law he’ll only have to do time until he’s 23.
There’s no clear reason why he killed his father, though Wallace did point out that he’d seen an episode of Law & Order: SVU that portrayed a boy who killed his abusive stepdad and received no punishment.
Like the boy portrayed on TV, Joseph had been abused. But he was also dangerous. He’d gotten expelled from school six times for offenses ranging from scratching people to stabbing them with sharp objects, Wallace writes.
After then-10-year-old Joseph was arrested for killing his dad, Chief District Attorney Mike Soccio got attacked online for supposedly blaming the young victim.
When those people called Soccio’s office, he had a response that went something like this, he told Wallace: “I said, ‘Look, if you’d like, I’ll see if the Court can release him to your custody tonight.’ I said, ‘I don’t think you ought to sleep too soundly, and don’t piss him off. But if you really think everything’s ok, here, take him.'”
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