"This was not a complex killing"
January 15, 2013 8:47 PM   Subscribe

On Monday, a 12-year-old California boy was convicted of the second-degree murder of his father, regional Neo-Nazi leader Jeff Hall.

Prosecutors were successful with their claim that the boy was guilty of a “premeditated and deliberate” crime when the then 10-year-old shot his father, citing testimony from the youth's younger sister and the boy's history of violence and aggression. The boy admitted to taking his father's .357 handgun from a closet early one morning and shooting him as he lay sleeping on the couch. The defense unsuccessfully pointed to the fact that Child Protective Services had been called to the home over 20 times due to reports of abuse and the fact the the boy, who was expelled from several schools after aggression towards peers and teachers, was being home-schooled.

The youth could potentially be kept in juvenile detention facilities until age 23.
posted by Benjy (114 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

 
I'd be giving the kid a medal...
posted by ~Bert at 8:51 PM on January 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


The defense unsuccessfully pointed to the fact that Child Protective Services had been called to the home over 20 times due to reports of abuse [...]

Oh my god...
posted by six-or-six-thirty at 8:54 PM on January 15, 2013 [33 favorites]


Barbarians, barbarians as far as the eye can see. At this rate we'll soon have public hangings of starving street urchins for stealing a loaf of bread.

I feel like I'm living in a Coetzee novel.
posted by Llama-Lime at 8:56 PM on January 15, 2013 [17 favorites]


I was worried they had tried him as an adult, but that doesn't seem to be the case. I don't know how good the juvenile detention facilities are in CA - hopefully there will be someone there to make sure he gets the care he needs. Of course, it could be horrible, I don't know.
posted by delmoi at 8:57 PM on January 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


It's times like this that California needs a "He needed killin'" defense.
posted by mikesch at 8:58 PM on January 15, 2013 [17 favorites]


A neo-nazi abused his kid so thoroughly that the kid shot him to death? It's almost like being a hate-mongering piece of shit isn't compatible with being a good person or parent.
posted by Pope Guilty at 8:58 PM on January 15, 2013 [57 favorites]


I don't know how that judge can determine he was in full recognition of the right/wrong of this matter at the age of ten. I sure as shit wasn't at that age. Hell, as far as I'm concerned, he was right. And no, I don't have one goddamn piece of sympathy for his father.
posted by Purposeful Grimace at 9:01 PM on January 15, 2013 [9 favorites]


I'd be giving the kid a medal...

The last thing the kid needs is the message that violence is the best solution to problems.
posted by ILuvMath at 9:03 PM on January 15, 2013 [17 favorites]


In this case? What were his options? Not condoning murder, but still…
posted by desjardins at 9:06 PM on January 15, 2013 [7 favorites]


How can Americans be so for the idea of violence and guns as a solution and yet so squeamish that they want to lock up a 10 year old for for using a gun as a solution? Self defense aside, he's in no way an adult.

This is another example of how compassion has been sanded off of America.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 9:09 PM on January 15, 2013 [80 favorites]


In this case? What were his options? Not condoning murder, but still…

The kid did what he needed to do to survive. Most people call that self-defence, but if they want to call it murder, I absolutely condone murder.
posted by Jairus at 9:10 PM on January 15, 2013 [11 favorites]


Sounds like a violent kid. Hopefully by killing his father with a gun, no one will sell him a gun in the future.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:12 PM on January 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


Couldn'ta happened to a nicer guy.
posted by klangklangston at 9:13 PM on January 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


Is anyone else finding that CBS piece really difficult to read due to the format of it? It seems like there's a lot of the nuances of the case in there but god is it frustrating for me to get through. I guess because it's a summary of a video, but... still.

Anyway, from this article at least it doesn't sound like it's 'just' a case of abuse. Supposedly Hall had been a 'model father' until the 2 years before his death, after he'd become the Neo Nazi group leader and started drinking. So supposedly, although I find it really hard to figure out from this article, Joseph was showing a lot of problem signs before then.
As the police began to dig, they discovered that little Joseph was a volatile and violent child, who had been kicked out of several schools for attacking students and staff, once nearly choking a teacher with a phone-cord.

Patterson: My grandson was who he was from the time he was born.

Stahl: What do you mean?

Patterson: He has absolutely no understanding of cause and effect.

Stahl: It is so rare that a 10-year-old would kill a father.

Patterson: Uh huh. Well, but you know, I wasn't surprised by it. I just somehow felt it could always happen. But I thought it would be when he's older.

Stahl: Would this have happened if Jeff had not become a Nazi?

Patterson: I think so. Probably later. Joe was still Joe and they weren't having a lot of luck figuring out exactly what his problems were. Or how to deal successfully with them.

Little Joseph also had a history of starting fires.
posted by six-or-six-thirty at 9:16 PM on January 15, 2013 [6 favorites]


I recommend watching Leslie Stahl's '60 Minutes' segment: The Murder of An American Nazi [13:20].
posted by ericb at 9:17 PM on January 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


Regarding motivation, the only quote I found was "[He] said he thought his dad was cheating on his [step]mom and thought he might have to choose which person he would live with."
posted by Winnemac at 9:21 PM on January 15, 2013


Man I mean fuck Jeff Hall right to hell and all, yes, but at the same time I'm having a hard time reading anything but head-splitting tragedy in a story where a child kills his own father.
posted by shakespeherian at 9:23 PM on January 15, 2013 [17 favorites]


Can someone explain to me why a violent, child abusing nazi leader was permitted to own guns.
posted by quarsan at 9:26 PM on January 15, 2013 [32 favorites]


This may sound really sad, but honestly, in the long run he might actually be better off in juvie than he would be growing up with that family.
posted by wolfdreams01 at 9:28 PM on January 15, 2013 [4 favorites]


Can someone explain to me why a violent, child abusing nazi leader was permitted to own guns.
Because the Zionist Occupation Government has so far repressed the rights of white men that... er, hang on...
posted by Abiezer at 9:28 PM on January 15, 2013 [27 favorites]


You know, this could be one of the cases of having a monstrous child. They do exist, sometimes. We had that link here awhile back, where a mom talked about how dangerous her kid was, how insanely manipulative and vicious he was. This could be a child like that. We might all have very different opinions if the father had posted here, like she did.

It's really rare, but in a nation of 300 million people, it's going to happen sometimes, and of course we all hear about it when it does.

It strikes me as possible -- far from certain, but possible -- that the dad might have started drinking and gotten into such a nasty outfit because he didn't know how to deal with the Creature from the Black Lagoon.

It seems to me that, given how little we actually know here, reserving judgement is much more intelligent than praising a murder. Maybe the father was the bad guy, but the kid could be, too.
posted by Malor at 9:30 PM on January 15, 2013 [13 favorites]


You know, this could be one of the cases of having a monstrous child. They do exist, sometimes. We had that link here awhile back, where a mom talked about how dangerous her kid was, how insanely manipulative and vicious he was. This could be a child like that. We might all have very different opinions if the father had posted here, like she did.

Occam's razor would suggest that this kid had behavioral problems because his crazy neo-Nazi nutjob father was abusing him for years, and that his killing of his father was an act of self defence, rather than the idea that the kid was some sort of one in a million bad seed sociopath.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 9:35 PM on January 15, 2013 [30 favorites]


It strikes me as possible -- far from certain, but possible -- that the dad might have started drinking and gotten into such a nasty outfit because he didn't know how to deal with the Creature from the Black Lagoon.

I guess I missed the part of Problem Child 2 where John Ritter becomes leader of a Neo-Nazi organization because his kid's a bit unruly.
posted by Sys Rq at 9:36 PM on January 15, 2013 [21 favorites]


Can someone explain to me why a violent, child abusing nazi leader was permitted to own guns.

It was his Constitutional right.
Of course, if he didn't own the gun, or had it properly secured, he might not be dead.

The boy said in a videotaped interview with police that he didn't think he'd get in trouble because he saw an episode of Criminal Minds in which a child killed an abusive father and wasn't arrested.

I guess TV was to blame.
posted by Mezentian at 9:38 PM on January 15, 2013 [6 favorites]


Man I mean fuck Jeff Hall right to hell and all, yes, but at the same time I'm having a hard time reading anything but head-splitting tragedy in a story where a child kills his own father.

I don't understand this case at all. It's Greek to me.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 9:46 PM on January 15, 2013 [12 favorites]


Well, there's always talk of making the parents accountable for their kids' crimes. In this case, I think they should hold the dad accountable for the murder his son committed, and administer the death penalty.

Open and shut case.
posted by mullingitover at 9:47 PM on January 15, 2013 [6 favorites]


And generally un-threatened evil would appear to have offed itself (after a fashion) once again.
posted by Slackermagee at 9:47 PM on January 15, 2013


I don't understand this case at all. It's Greek to me.

Well in order to go fully Oedipal, he'd have to start dating his mom from prison.
posted by phaedon at 9:49 PM on January 15, 2013 [6 favorites]


So, if I ever find myself really hard up for external validation, are the neo-nazis so desperate that I could go from model father to alcoholic neo-Nazi regional commander in two years, as six-or-six-thirty cites, or is someone working very hard to whitewash this guy?
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 10:08 PM on January 15, 2013 [11 favorites]


Malor: "You know, this could be one of the cases of having a monstrous child. They do exist, sometimes. We had that link here awhile back, where a mom talked about how dangerous her kid was, how insanely manipulative and vicious he was. This could be a child like that. We might all have very different opinions if the father had posted here, like she did."

His thoughts were red thoughts: "Occam's razor would suggest that this kid had behavioral problems because his crazy neo-Nazi nutjob father was abusing him for years, and that his killing of his father was an act of self defence, rather than the idea that the kid was some sort of one in a million bad seed sociopath."

Neither of these theories seem quite right to me; they don't jive with the way children's minds seem to work. As far as I can tell, "monstrous children" or "sociopaths" are not usually just born that way. They're made that way; human beings are really not supposed to experience certain things, particularly when they're young.

I hate to say it, but this is pretty much precisely how sociopaths are made. The fact that it may have been a kind of self defense in the moment would be some comfort for an adult who'd been in that situation; for a twelve-year-old kid, I sincerely doubt that being told that he was in a bad situation doing what he had to do will help much. It'll be years before he can process much of this.

I really feel for this poor kid, and I hope to god he meets up with a few miracles in the form of good people equipped to help him.
posted by koeselitz at 10:15 PM on January 15, 2013 [8 favorites]


I know a criminal defense attorney who swears that the safest unstable violent criminals are the ones who are diagnosed and locked up after killing their parents. Because they have already committed the exact crime they wanted to commit.

Not saying this kid is crazy, but even if he is crazy, he might not be that dangerous to other people. And anyway, he's just a kid.

The real question is why he was left in his dad's care for so long. Kid, I hope you have lawyers and I hope they help you sue CA child protective services, you might have a case...
posted by subdee at 10:24 PM on January 15, 2013 [6 favorites]


Anyway, from this article at least it doesn't sound like it's 'just' a case of abuse. Supposedly Hall had been a 'model father' until the 2 years before his death, after he'd become the Neo Nazi group leader and started drinking. So supposedly, although I find it really hard to figure out from this article, Joseph was showing a lot of problem signs before then.

From the LA Times:
The accused boy's mother, Leticia Neal of Spokane, Wash., on Tuesday said she pleaded with the courts to grant her custody of their 10-year-old son and 9-year-old daughter after learning about her ex-husband's neo-Nazi ties. Neal, during the divorce proceedings nearly a decade ago, accused Hall of abusing their two children, but the charges were never substantiated.

"All I can tell you is that I begged and begged them to please let me have full custody," Neal said in a telephone interview.

Court records show that Hall had been granted full custody of his two children during their divorce. He had accused his ex-wife of abusing and neglecting their son and daughter during custody visits. But a Sept. 19, 2002, child protective services report filed in court stated that those allegations could not be substantiated.

Neal denied the allegations during the court proceeding, and she declined to comment on the matter Tuesday.

In January 2011, a Riverside County judge upheld Hall's full custody of the children, barring her from visiting the children. But Neal and her children were allowed to start undergoing reunification therapy.
So as early as 2001, the kid's mom said dad was abusing him. In 2002, dad says it's the other way around. So either the parents are unclear on what exactly constitutes child abuse, or they are willing to lie about their child being abused to restrict the child's contact with his other parent or to punish the other parent, or one or both of them might have abused the kids in some way, or some combination of those totally awesome options.

I don't think the kid was the monster, here.
posted by Snarl Furillo at 10:29 PM on January 15, 2013 [29 favorites]


Plus, sure, let's say the kid has conduct disorder. I mean, shit, a 10-year-old kills someone, the kid pretty much has to have conduct disorder. Who keeps a gun in a house with a child who has demonstrated violent tendencies towards others? Who leaves a handgun in the closet when living with a kid who tries to strangle his elementary-school teachers with the phone line? If you're terrified of what the kid might do, wouldn't you maybe lock up your rifle .22 and all of your ammo? I sure as fuck would.

On the other hand, if I just generally enjoyed terrifying my child with the constant threat of lethal violence- you know, when the administration of non-lethal violence just wasn't doing the trick- I would keep all of my weapons close at hand and make sure everyone in the house knew where they were.
posted by Snarl Furillo at 10:46 PM on January 15, 2013 [15 favorites]


It's weird to see so many people cheering the death of the Nazi dad. Pardon me for generalizing, but I always assumed the MeFi general populace was against the death penalty.

Poor kid. I mean, the dad is dead, but this kid still has a whole fucked-up life ahead of him. A shame nobody competently intervened in time. I'd like to think there was a way this could have been prevented.

As a side note, and all apologies for mangling this completely, but wasn't there some statistic to the effect that gun ownership drastically increases your chances of being killed by a gun?
posted by Afroblanco at 10:47 PM on January 15, 2013 [16 favorites]


I'm more worried about what being imprisoned for killing his father will do to the child than whether he's a sociopath or not- I'm pretty sure all children are equal part monster and angel, potential killer or saviour, without a strong moral element either way, and their experiences play a large part in resolving what they will eventually become.

Imagine growing up as "the boy who shot and killed his father". Imagine telling a potential girlfriend or boyfriend that. Imagine being labelled as "damaged" "dangerous" "victim" or any of the thousand other labels that will be competing for his belief. Imagine growing up in juvie. I think that his father's Nazism will be a huge mitigating factor in how people regard this child for his actions, and on one level he surely knows that- surely understands that nazis are largely despised, as are abusers, and that killing one would be considered laudable or at least forgivable by many- but I doubt he has a sophisticated enough understanding to fully grasp how powerfully this will change his future, how he's viewed and treated, and how it will effect his own psyche- when he matures. People in this thread can say knee-jerk "good job" stuff about the child, but woukd you really want to hang out with him? Alone? With a knife in the house? Or would you always be a little on edge around him in spite of your philosophy?

This kid doesn't understand what he's gotten himself into. And that's a shame, because now he's a killer, and it's going to shape his entire life.
posted by windykites at 10:49 PM on January 15, 2013 [5 favorites]


I mean, I dated a guy whose grandfather killed someone, and it made me have some significant second thoughts.
posted by windykites at 10:56 PM on January 15, 2013


I'm disappointed that some of you seem happy about this. Leading a white supremacist organization is bad but surely murder is worse. A man is dead and a child's life is ruined. There's nothing here to celebrate.
posted by foobaz at 11:02 PM on January 15, 2013 [8 favorites]


I don't think the kid was the monster, here.

Doesn't necessarily have to be either/or. He sounds like a psychopath whose father also had psychopathic impulses.

wasn't there some statistic to the effect that gun ownership drastically increases your chances of being killed by a gun?

"Research by epidemiologists at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine suggests that carrying a gun makes one 4.5 times more likely to be shot in an assault, than someone not possessing a gun. Resisting increases one's odds of suffering harm even greater."
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:03 PM on January 15, 2013 [8 favorites]


i don't have a cite, afroblanco, but that sounds right IIRC. I can tell you that each of my kids' pediatricians asked if there were guns in the house at every annual. i conclude that it's a statistically significant issue, epidemiology-wise.
posted by j_curiouser at 11:04 PM on January 15, 2013


“Can someone explain to me why a violent, child abusing nazi leader was permitted to own guns.”
Seems to have sorted itself out.

But I can't say it's not tragic. The Greek references are apt.

"but woukd you really want to hang out with him? Alone? With a knife in the house? "
Would he with me?


"Imagine growing up as "the boy who shot and killed his father"...And that's a shame, because now he's a killer, and it's going to shape his entire life."


"The object of life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane."- Marcus Aurelius
posted by Smedleyman at 11:09 PM on January 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


There's nothing here to celebrate.

Other than the leader of a white-power organization no longer leading a white-power organization, a mother and brother being free of an apparently abusive family situation and a kid who finally has a (small) chance to get the care he desperately needs, I totally agree with you.

That said, the price was too high.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 11:10 PM on January 15, 2013 [5 favorites]


NEW RULE! If your 10 year old kid gets ahold of your guns and shoots your nazi ass, everyone in your whole county has to go and get at least a month of therapy. If they like it they can keep going.

Hell we can train the national guard as therapists. Recent news makes me think we will need 'em.
posted by poe at 11:15 PM on January 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


I love how this is slowly morphing into an AskMe thread.
posted by phaedon at 11:34 PM on January 15, 2013 [4 favorites]


They're from Imperial County poe. They need way more than a month of therapy to sort that place out.
posted by fshgrl at 11:38 PM on January 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


"Man I mean fuck Jeff Hall right to hell and all, yes, but at the same time I'm having a hard time reading anything but head-splitting tragedy in a story where a child kills his own father."

At least he was more Zeus than Cronus.
posted by klangklangston at 11:40 PM on January 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


"It's weird to see so many people cheering the death of the Nazi dad. Pardon me for generalizing, but I always assumed the MeFi general populace was against the death penalty."

That's a non sequitor. I support street maintenance but I'm not gonna weep if Donald Trump falls into an open manhole and dies.
posted by klangklangston at 11:41 PM on January 15, 2013 [12 favorites]


I think about situations like this and I don't see any good in them. The father caused a lot of harm in the world and in his son, but people aren't born evil, this has to be learned. It is unfashionable these days to talk about killers and neo-Nazis as if they were once innocent children untained by people who damn well should have known better, but once they were, in fact, such people.

I cannot blame the child for what he did. It was likely self-defense, if not immediately so then eventually, if not physical defense then psychological. Best of all, however, would be if his father had learned to treat his son better, if he hadn't learned the language of hate early in life, if that perspective hadn't come to dominate his thinking.

The best face I can put on this in my head is: this is a thing, that happened, it is a fact. It's also the worst face I can put on it. It's a tragedy all around; for the kid, how how he was brought up, for his killing a parent, for the parent who drove that kid to kill him, and for the terrible chain of facts that gave rise to the situation.

If you're serious about that therapy I'd like to try it, thinking about situations like this make me think I could use some.
posted by JHarris at 11:47 PM on January 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


"So either the parents are unclear on what exactly constitutes child abuse, or they are willing to lie about their child being abused to restrict the child's contact with his other parent or to punish the other parent, or one or both of them might have abused the kids in some way, or some combination of those totally awesome options."
Sadly, unclear to them or not, both of the options involve abuse in one form or another.
Riverside superior court judge Jean Leonard heard the case without a jury.

Leonard said in the ruling that the killing was planned by the boy but noted the amount of abuse he suffered at the hands of his father had an effect on his life.

"This was not a complex killing," Leonard said. "He thought about the idea and shot his father."
I find this quote really disturbing in its dismissiveness. The lives of children and the experiences that shape them are just as complex as any other person's — even when viewed through the eyes of the children themselves. Human motivation isn't more easily explained just because you're smaller or younger or less capable of cognitive and emotional processing, for whatever reason. I think an arbiter of justice should be one of the first people to realize this.
posted by iamkimiam at 12:07 AM on January 16, 2013 [14 favorites]


Hell, as far as I'm concerned, he was right. And no, I don't have one goddamn piece of sympathy for his father.

If he had come to you just before he did it and asked for your advice, would you have told him to do it?
posted by ActingTheGoat at 12:17 AM on January 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


That's a non sequitor. I support street maintenance but I'm not gonna weep if Donald Trump falls into an open manhole and dies.

That's comedy. Tragedy is when Donald Trump hurts my thumb.
posted by Joey Michaels at 12:20 AM on January 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


The lives of children and the experiences that shape them are just as complex as any other person's — even when viewed through the eyes of the children themselves. Human motivation isn't more easily explained just because you're smaller or younger or less capable of cognitive and emotional processing, for whatever reason. I think an arbiter of justice should be one of the first people to realize this.

Yeah, well, this is what happens when you elect your judges, instead of appointing them on the basis of merit.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 12:22 AM on January 16, 2013 [6 favorites]


Yeah, when you appoint them you only have to worry about the motivations of the person doing the appointing. That couldn't ever be a bad thing!
posted by JHarris at 12:28 AM on January 16, 2013 [4 favorites]


I'm not gonna weep if Donald Trump falls into an open manhole and dies.

Even the Trump has a mother who loves him.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:35 AM on January 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


The father caused a lot of harm in the world and in his son, but people aren't born evil, this has to be learned.

Multiple people have made this assertion in this thread, and while it's probably true for the majority of people, there's no shortage of evidence to show that *some* kids probably are just born that way.

And if the kid wasn't born evil, then the father probably wasn't born evil either. How come the kid deserves our sympathy, in spite of his evil actions, but the father only warrants our complete condemnation?
posted by PeterMcDermott at 12:56 AM on January 16, 2013 [7 favorites]


From the last link:
"The prosecutor, who displayed grisly photographs of the slain man showing a bullet wound above his left ear, said Joseph Hall knew that the gun was dangerous and had planned the crime, telling his sister about his intentions the day before.

"He understood that if he shot someone in the head, they'd be gone," Soccio said. "He knew what he did was wrong. He knew full well what that meant.""
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:16 AM on January 16, 2013


Each man's future is nature and nurture. I'd like to know about the father's father and upbringing. What turns a plumber and divorced father of five into a would-be Dirty Harry and local Nazi leader?
posted by pracowity at 1:29 AM on January 16, 2013


"He needed killin'" defense.
How can Americans be so for the idea of violence and guns as a solution


Such is the base nature of "americans" - a nation founded in bloodshed.

"He understood that if he shot someone in the head, they'd be gone," Soccio said. "He knew what he did was wrong. He knew full well what that meant.""

Such meets the laws requirements about premeditation and intent.

May the child fall under the stated goals of rehabilitation and come out the other side of incarceration actually rehabilitated.

And may those of you who've stated thing like "need killing" be in a position to supply this youth a job like he was not a felon at age 24.
posted by rough ashlar at 1:30 AM on January 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


As far as I can tell, "monstrous children" or "sociopaths" are not usually just born that way.

The book "the sociopath next door" makes the argument that 4% are "born" that way.
posted by rough ashlar at 1:33 AM on January 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Multiple people have made this assertion in this thread, and while it's probably true for the majority of people, there's no shortage of evidence to show that *some* kids probably are just born that way.

Maybe. But it's more likely than not that his father beating him is what conditioned this kid towards violence.

And that he didn't see any other way out of the trap he and his sister was in. Unless he had a reason to think that the 21st time Child Protection Services was called in, things would change, and he and his sister would be safe.
posted by sebastienbailard at 1:37 AM on January 16, 2013 [5 favorites]


But... 4% of the population isn't going around and plugging other people, much less their parents , above the ear with a .357 so let's not reduce this to some kind of quantitative idea that we can't really apply anyway. Maybe we should put the "psychopath" label aside for now as there is more than enough evidence that he didn't have the best upbringing by his abusive hate-mongering father, and I am sure no one here is going to deny that would not have deleterious effects upon a young child's psyche.
posted by P.o.B. at 1:54 AM on January 16, 2013


Maybe. But it's more likely than not that his father beating him is what conditioned this kid towards violence.

I think that's quite possible, but you have no way of knowing, either way.

And that he didn't see any other way out of the trap he and his sister was in.

Thousands and thousands of children live in families where they're subjected to violence. The number of them who decide that they're going to resolve that violence by putting a bullet through their father's brain is so tiny that it hardly constitutes a normal response -- regardless of your US Dirty Harry/John Wayne fantasies.

What's more, the father had only been a Nazi for three years -- joining the party in response to long term unemployment and a poor economy. So is it the father that's to blame, or the larger political and economic system that pushed him into believing that the only way he could survive is through the embrace of a white supremacist ideology?
posted by PeterMcDermott at 1:54 AM on January 16, 2013 [4 favorites]


Wait, so are you admitting the father is by far the more irrational agent in the scenario?
posted by P.o.B. at 1:58 AM on January 16, 2013


If he had come to you just before he did it and asked for your advice, would you have told him to do it?

No, I would have done everything in my power to get him and his sister into foster care/adoption. But that's the hypothetical. This kid shot a repeatedly abusive parent at a moment when he felt he had no other avenue to pursue. Would I have done the same thing at the age of ten, had such a situation arisen? As distasteful as it might be to you, I very well might have.

Have you ever talked to a child who has faced abuse his whole life and had them tell you about how they both love and hate their abuser? I have. They are so powerless, their brains aren't fully formed into an adult moral pattern and this kid had TV telling him that he was justified. Not having enough guidance regarding the law, he did what he did.

Get into your ten year old head and tell me how you feel about your dad coming home from work every day, taking off his belt and beating the shit out of you. And that's all you remember about your dad, from your earliest memories. Tell me that using a gun to end that torture wouldn't enter into your mind.

Right or wrong be damned in this case, the father was the cause of his own death and sentencing this child to eleven years of jail is FUCKED BEYOND ALL BELIEF.
posted by Purposeful Grimace at 1:58 AM on January 16, 2013 [11 favorites]


Now, I could well be entirely wrong on this, but having grown up alongside someone with (a somewhat less severe expression of) the condition, this looks to me like a near-textbook case of kid with some sort of attachment disorder.
posted by Dysk at 1:59 AM on January 16, 2013


Dysk I was just thinking about that.

A lot of the "born-that-way" socio/psychopath stats are based on a general lack of awareness of and/or understanding about childhood attachment disorders. I recently, as an unpaid volunteer (just to emphasize, I do not earn anything from any of these links), interviewed a clinical psychologist, Dr. Rygaard, who develops materials for Fair Start, a non-profit EU project "dedicated to improving the futures of orphaned children by providing professionally authored, open-source training materials for caregivers." Their work often, if not always, means addressing attachment disorders of greater or lesser severity. Dr. Rygaard has a free chapter available from his own book on severe attachment disorder, just that chapter is worth reading as a very eye-opening, empathetic introduction. (The book itself is more aimed for caregivers of children with severe attachment disorder.)

I'll quote a bit of it (emphasis in the original):
You should note the distinction in the title of severe Attachment Disorder: the subject is not children who have only experienced single traumatic life events – they have a much better prognosis – it is about children who have survived multiple traumatic events, perhaps hunger, and a persistent lack of parenting in their first years.

It is also important to understand that these children are normal children whose abnormal behavior is caused by an abnormal early environment.

[...]

In the very short version Attachment Disorder (hence: AD) covers a range of behavior problems that are common in children who did not receive sufficient care during the first few years. As we shall see, the problem of AD is a complex one, but in headlines the most important criteria will suffice:
A. Antisocial behavior throughout childhood (including preschool age) [...]
B. Uncritical attachment behavior [...]

[I include the following paragraphs addressed to caregivers of children with AD because of their empathy, and the ray of hope for children under the care of someone who genuinely worries about their well-being and future]

The increasing number of children with AD behavior patterns are only the tip of the iceberg, and I would like the troubled reader in custody of such a child to remember that you are not entirely alone and totally responsible, you are also facing a small facet of a general problem in society that should not remain hidden and private. I say this because my supervision practice has shown me that people working with these children (especially adoptive parents with no prior knowledge of AD) tend to torment themselves with blame, exhausting illusions about miracles, and feelings of anger, hopelessness and incompetence. In other words: they fall prey to the same emotional dynamics as the child in their care, and therefore are of little help to it.

It is extremely important in order to provide an efficient treatment that you see the general aspects of attachment problems and limit your efforts to something possible and not detrimental to your own health. If not, you will probably burn out and have to let go of the stable, long-term, calm and down-to-earth environment that is so important for the optimal function of these children. The child would then experience a new rejection and separation.
He gives examples, in that free chapter, of children with behavior very similar to what's described of this boy. I should probably give a trigger warning too; there is a story of one young girl who kills an animal. But then, when you read about her background... sigh. Thank goodness there's an increasing understanding of how these children can be given hope for a better future.
posted by fraula at 2:40 AM on January 16, 2013 [13 favorites]


I imagine the NRA are at this moment drafting a statement which explains how this tragedy could have been avoided, if only everybody involved had had more guns.
posted by pont at 2:42 AM on January 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


Yeah, this is jacked. We allow so little agency to victims of abuse and it is horrifying. The kid killed his dad because he was cheating on his stepmom and didn't know if he'd have to live with him? Sounds like the mom, and later step-mom, may have been the only people mitigating the abuse, and he was afraid.

The fact that he told his sister the day before and she was cool with it points more strongly to the fact that life in this house must have been hell.

I don't think the kid was wrong to shoot. I think they were wrong to send him to jail for it. That kid needs some serious therapy at this point.

And yeah, there is no part of me that weeps for the death of a child-abusing Nazi.
posted by corb at 2:47 AM on January 16, 2013 [10 favorites]


A large part of becoming a murderer (or a suicide) has to be just stumbling on the opportunity. This kid was trained to use that gun, he had easy access to that gun, and the real or perceived source of all his troubles that evening was lying asleep on the couch.

If you have a kid and a gun and your gun is not locked up, you ought to be locked up.
posted by pracowity at 2:47 AM on January 16, 2013 [4 favorites]


Mezentian: "The boy said in a videotaped interview with police that he didn't think he'd get in trouble because he saw an episode of Criminal Minds in which a child killed an abusive father and wasn't arrested.

I guess TV was to blame.
"

And that, right there, tells me that lad has a severely broken sense of reality and consequence, which sort of eliminates the whole mens rea argument, right?
posted by Samizdata at 3:16 AM on January 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


How come the kid deserves our sympathy, in spite of his evil actions, but the father only warrants our complete condemnation?

Well, in part because the father was an adult, with a neurologically complete brain (probably, anyway), and decades of experiences and perspective - or at least decades in which to acquire and use them. He also had all power available to an adult in the U.S.

The kid was ten, with a ten-year-old's brain that's literally incapable of making or appreciating certain kinds of decisions and their consequences. Legally and socially, he was about as powerless as you can get here.

Dad had a lot of options and the neurology to evaluate them. Kid had neither.
posted by rtha at 3:17 AM on January 16, 2013 [15 favorites]


The whole "born bad" thing pisses me off. I mean, from his grandmother:

Patterson: I think so. Probably later. Joe was still Joe and they weren't having a lot of luck figuring out exactly what his problems were. Or how to deal successfully with them.


Well, gee. I'm not sure what exactly is going on, maybe "a bitter divorce fraught with abuse allegations" (that were true) and living in neglect and squalor had something to do with it, or perhaps his disabilities (ADD, Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, probably PTSD)? Nah, it is the mystery of the universe! Who knows what happens when you take a boy who has the deck stacked against him, brain-wise, and raise him in a home with likely alcoholism and domestic violence where he's kicked, punched, and otherwise abused on a regular basis?

I mean this is pretty much the sheer fucking opposite of a confusing surprise.
posted by the young rope-rider at 4:17 AM on January 16, 2013 [17 favorites]


natural selection is alive and well in the 21st century
posted by GreyFoxVT at 4:18 AM on January 16, 2013


"a bitter divorce fraught with abuse allegations" (that were true)

Where do you get the that were true part? I only saw ""most of the allegations were unfounded" — reported as part of a "bitter child custody dispute" between Hall and his ex-wife."

Way too much here is way too unclear - which is sadly typical of reporting these days.
posted by IndigoJones at 4:22 AM on January 16, 2013


This kid shot a repeatedly abusive parent at a moment when he felt he had no other avenue to pursue.

He didn't, though, quite. He shot an abusive parent not in the heat of the moment, but rather after carefully planning the precise moment to ambush them, in cold blood. That's about the one thing we know.

Whether and to what degree the kid was abused, we don't know that. We know the father accused the mother of it; we know the mother accussed the father of it. So did the step mom, which lends it some credence, I suppose. But then again it seems there was never anything specific enough to get the state to take the kids --- no third party required responder, a teacher, an emergency room doctor, ever piping up to say they'd seen evidence of abuse. Just the mutual accusations of two people in an extremely bitter custody dispute. So do we know for a fact that the dad was beating the kid with a belt everyday? No, we don't.

Could he have been? Sure. I have no problem believing a neo-Nazi as a tough disciplinarian and likely abusive. But we don't know. Therefore I don't think it's obvious that the kid was in a desperate, fight for his life situation. He may have been. Or he may just have been a kid who wanted to live with an easygoing step mom instead of a tough, strict father, a kid with aggression problems, a violent kid. We say he didn't understand the consequences of his choices, and he didn't. But he thought about them --- thought about whether he'd have to go to jail, decided he probably wouldn't and then went ahead and planned an ambush.

In other words, whether the kid was being abused or not, the murder seems to have been premeditated and in cold blood. As such, I have no problem with them sicking him in juvie for it. Kid needs help. And consequences. And let's all hope that whatever happened to him he's not so lost he's incapable of regret.
posted by Diablevert at 4:26 AM on January 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


Where do you get the that were true part? I only saw ""most of the allegations were unfounded" — reported as part of a "bitter child custody dispute" between Hall and his ex-wife."

I am assuming they are true because this kid has been (literally) kicked around for years at this point, and I don't buy the dad's sister saying "oh he was a model dad until recently!" I just don't think that is likely at all. And yeah, they were "unfounded" allegations, because CPS dropped the fucking ball out of sheer incompetence (or bought the whole "my crazy ex is such a crazy vindictive bitch" thing) which is why this kid was not protected in any way.
posted by the young rope-rider at 4:45 AM on January 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


A bit of the acorn/tree thing perhaps?
posted by jim in austin at 4:56 AM on January 16, 2013


I'm in the "some kids are born bad" camp.
I have none of my own, so I lack nuance, but I know kids and parents and I can imagine with really bad parents bad kids can be BAD. Good parents keep them from going over the line, as par as I can tell, but I have seen calculated chaos in kids.

Is my experience so alien?
posted by Mezentian at 5:03 AM on January 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


Anyone else shocked that this wasn't a jury trial?
posted by grimjeer at 5:10 AM on January 16, 2013


This is hard for me to parse out because most of the articles I've read on this said that the child was violent as a BABY, long before his father was a Neo-Nazi. I'm not saying his environment helped him, at all, but getting kicked out of daycare is unusual.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 5:19 AM on January 16, 2013


Based on what we know, the kid seems to quite clearly be a danger to other people – particularly whatever caretakers he'd end up with. This isn't a kid who just couldn't take it any longer; it's a kid who – even with much fault on this victim – doesn't have stable control on his impulses. His father was just the most recent victim of his aggression – albeit the deadest.

It's fine to empathize with the situation, but putting him in a place where he can stabilize without being a danger to anyone he meets is probably the best thing to do.
posted by pokermonk at 5:38 AM on January 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


Anyone else shocked that this wasn't a jury trial?

No.
The US might be different, but a high profile case like this tends to avoid jury trials.
For good or ill.
And 11yo alleged murderer? Not surprised at all.
posted by Mezentian at 5:44 AM on January 16, 2013


Being kicked out of daycare is not uncommon for children with disabilities like ADD, autism spectrum disorders, or fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS). Nor is being kicked out of daycare uncommon for children with severe behavioral issues such as those that can be caused by (drumroll) abuse or trauma.

Some people might be born bad, but nearly any of us would behave poorly given a good dose of alcohol while developing as fetuses, ongoing trauma and neglect, separation from one or both parents at an early age, physical abuse, and isolation from any kind of positive influence.

There's no way for a baby (defined as a child under 12 months, sometimes under 18 months) to be genuinely violent, by the way. They kick, pull hair, bite, hit because they're babies and they're figuring things out all the time. If I heard a caregiver describe their baby as "violent", I would be genuinely worried about the caregiver's mental state and attachment to the child, or their ignorance of child development. To say a baby is "violent" is putting a very negative spin on the normal behaviors of a completely helpless child.
posted by the young rope-rider at 5:44 AM on January 16, 2013 [12 favorites]


The US might be different, but a high profile case like this tends to avoid jury trials.

I... what? You know everyone in the US has a constitutional right to a jury trial, yeah? And since a jury would be WAY more likely to privilege the "self-defense against a lifelong abuser" defense than would a judge, I'm similarly confused about the lack of a jury trial.
posted by Mayor West at 5:48 AM on January 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


And to be clear, I'm not saying this kid is a normal, happy kid with no problems. Not at all. What I am objecting to is the assumption that this child was born irrevocably bad. I am asking for some empathy and compassion for the life that this child has led up to this point, and an acknowledgment that with decent parents, decent services, and some support, things might have been different for him.
posted by the young rope-rider at 5:54 AM on January 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


I... what? You know everyone in the US has a constitutional right to a jury trial, yeah? And since a jury would be WAY more likely to privilege the "self-defense against a lifelong abuser" defense than would a judge, I'm similarly confused about the lack of a jury trial.

He was tried as a juvenile right? There's no constitutional right to a jury trial in juvenile proceedings. A few states grant them that right, but most don't.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 6:00 AM on January 16, 2013


Mezentian, if you'll pardon me, I do have kids and offer my lived experience. Our culture's public narratives about child rearing greatly oversimplify it, in part because raising kids brings up all kinds of topics about which we have accepted facile explanations or agreed to disagree, and partly because we tend to conduct our public discourse largely in the language of judgment and blame.

My eldest, 3 years old, has been experimenting with violence and lying. Is this evidence that I'm a bad parent? Yes and no. Every kid explores these behaviors, for the simple fact that kids explore the contours of absolutely everything in their awareness. So that's the no. But for the yes—raising her, and grappling with the realities of her development, reveals to me vividly how ill prepared I am to be a "good parent", one that understands the development process, is in touch with his own emotional states and subconscious behaviors, and consistently comes up with age- and developmentally-appropriate responses and consequences to her "crimes". It is hard, even for 2 parents who are paying attention.

I have an issue with the use of the term "cold blood" here. Sounds more like hot blood to me, it is obvious that the Hall kid is carrying serious emotional hurts. The Attachment Disorder guy could be on the right track. What has impressed me as a parent is how ambiguous, opaque, and random is the process by which a child's development is shaped by early experiences. It's hard to cite a specific example but I am positive that well before 3, our daughters have been exposed to unhealthy behaviors that model for them and motivate them to respond.

Parenting is a deep inward journey, and even though I have been through therapy, there's a wellspring of dubious provenance in my own soul. And I can't predict how that will affect my children's emerging personalities. I know that, while our girls do not live with abuse, violence from adults, neglect, substance addiction, poverty, or even TV, that there's no guarantee they won't have some severe problems later on with genesis in their early emotional lives. There is a chance, even if we do everything we can to stack the deck in their favor, because childhood development is a complex system. Maybe there's even a strange attractor or two thrown in there.

If I'm forced to accept that parenting is non-linear and non-deterministic, who is that judge to mete out a severe sentence, putting the kid away in a pennitential bureaucracy whose therapeutic shortcomings are well known, and not even bother with a jury?

Also, is it standard procedure for child protective services to inquire as to the presence and disposition of guns in the household? And carrying what penalties for a false reporting parent? Seems like some lawyer, somewhere, ought to be interested in that.

On preview—Young Rope, I agree, and I think the boundary is blurry. Can a three year old be genuinely violent? Six? Ten? Having taught ten year olds in school, I know their experimentally aggressive behavior can be terrifying, but it may be a mistake to consider that violence in all cases.
posted by maniabug at 6:10 AM on January 16, 2013 [7 favorites]


Multiple people have made this assertion in this thread, and while it's probably true for the majority of people, there's no shortage of evidence to show that *some* kids probably are just born that way.

Then you shouldn't have trouble finding some? Give me something substantive to respond to rather than waving your hands around spookily and saying EVidencccce.

Because the way I see it, even the premise of your statement is flawed. People are good or bad according to some framework our culture has erected around them, and saying that some kids are objectively bad is like saying one dog in a thousand is born able to play poker.
posted by JHarris at 7:01 AM on January 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


JHarris, that's not true at all though. I mean, I guess it's true if you can find mass murder a morally questionable act, but let's not talk about the cultural construct of thinking that killing is bad.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 7:13 AM on January 16, 2013


Then you shouldn't have trouble finding some? Give me something substantive to respond to rather than waving your hands around spookily and saying EVidencccce.

Study finds psychopaths have distinct brain structure.

No one here knows if this particular was damaged at birth, but it's certainly possible kids to be born with brain issues that effect their sense of morality.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:16 AM on January 16, 2013


Study finds psychopaths have distinct brain structure.

Uh-huh. And that proves nothing. The definition of "psychopath" is problematic, and we'd need to find others with that kind of brain structure to be certain. And I'm sure you can find people whose brain scans say they should be psychopaths who are not.

But that's not the real problem. The real problem is that our definition of "bad" is problematic. Put a psychopath in charge of a huge corporation and we have a captain of industry. Put him on a battlefield and we have a war hero. And put him in an ordinary situation it's very possible for him to go his whole life without harming anyone. This seems to me like it's pre-judging based on biology, which is kind of a dangerous aisle to walk down.

Note: There might be more I could say on the matter but I have to run.
posted by JHarris at 7:31 AM on January 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


Whether and to what degree the kid was abused, we don't know that. We know the father accused the mother of it; we know the mother accussed the father of it. So did the step mom, which lends it some credence, I suppose. But then again it seems there was never anything specific enough to get the state to take the kids --- no third party required responder, a teacher, an emergency room doctor, ever piping up to say they'd seen evidence of abuse. Just the mutual accusations of two people in an extremely bitter custody dispute. So do we know for a fact that the dad was beating the kid with a belt everyday? No, we don't.

I think the fact that both the mom and stepmom accused the dad of abuse is more than just an "I suppose" on credence.

The fact that CPS never took the kids? CPS is not gifted with magic powers to know when abuse is going on. They do their best, but all that could have meant is the kid wasn't being hit on the face, or lied about it when asked. Which often happens with abusers. "You tell anybody, I'll take it out on your sister" is not uncommon.

I think we also place too high of a value on emotional reactions, too. So if an abuser is severely abusing someone and in the moment they try to kill the abuser, it's justified, because it's "not in cold blood." Even though they have a much lower chance of success at that time, and it's usually a bad chance to do it, it is viewed as morally better than an abuse victim waiting until a time when they were certain it would succeed and freeing themself.

I don't know what the answer is on that one, but something doesn't sit right there.
posted by corb at 7:38 AM on January 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


One thing I think is bizarre is the judge's emphasis on the whole 'sense of right and wrong' angle. Putting aside the (very) questionable notion that a ten-year-old can grasp the larger moral issues at hand, what about the question of whether or not the kid even had the reasoning capability to know how this would effect his life?

I mean, he said he thought he'd get away with it because he saw it on a TV show. That's ten-year-old logic if I've ever heard it. When I was ten, I thought a candle was brighter than a flashlight because I saw an episode of Scooby Doo where the kids used candles as a light source when exploring a cave. At that age, you don't have the reasoning capability to make decisions about life and death, which is exactly why we don't give them guns.

I'm less likely to see this as revenge, and more likely to see this as a horrible, horrible accident. Whoever touched on this upthread was spot on : when you've got a troubled kid with a history of violence, you do not fucking leave guns lying around. Seriously, what kind of idiot was this guy?
posted by Afroblanco at 8:21 AM on January 16, 2013 [4 favorites]


No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main; if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend's or of thine own were; any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.

--John Donne
posted by poe at 8:46 AM on January 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


You know, I'm suddenly wondering if the judge did this for the kid's benefit. Get him away from the remaining parent who was determined to be a poor enough parent that she couldn't even share custody with the nazi, and keep him out of the endless round of orphanages and foster homes that don't want to take him. In some places, juvie's not that bad. Maybe he's better off there.
posted by windykites at 8:54 AM on January 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


I think we also place too high of a value on emotional reactions, too. So if an abuser is severely abusing someone and in the moment they try to kill the abuser, it's justified, because it's "not in cold blood." Even though they have a much lower chance of success at that time, and it's usually a bad chance to do it, it is viewed as morally better than an abuse victim waiting until a time when they were certain it would succeed and freeing themself.

Then you have a problem with English common law since ever. You can go back to medieval times --- there's always been a recognised distinction between killing someone in the throes of an emotional crisis --- an argument that turns into a brawl, chasing after a robber or a rapist --- than killing someone after calmly and rationally deciding to do so and planning out a method that makes you less likely to get caught. Murder is wrong, and if you are capable of knowing that and deliberately choose to do it anyway that's worse than if you are in the middle of a fight or a flight and your anger gets the better of you. It's still wrong even if the victim was a bad person.
posted by Diablevert at 8:55 AM on January 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


The boy admitted to taking his father's .357 handgun from a closet early one morning and shooting him as he lay sleeping on the couch.

Good thing Dad's gun protected him so well. Loath as they are to admit it, gun advocates are aware that the research shows this is a more common scenario than the one where the gun scares away or kills the intruder.
posted by Mental Wimp at 9:02 AM on January 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


six-or-six-thirty: Supposedly Hall had been a 'model father' until the 2 years before his death, after he'd become the Neo Nazi group leader and started drinking.
I'm having a really hard time buying into the idea that this monumental shift from "model father" to "alcoholic leader of a hate group" happened suddenly. I suppose brain trauma could make such a transition possible, but the much, much greater odds are that he was an a-hole who didn't show his darker side to others until recently.

So, I can't say this would move me one way or the other about the kid, since it's probably not true, and certainly not provably true.
posted by IAmBroom at 10:56 AM on January 16, 2013


Loath as they are to admit it, gun advocates are aware that the research shows this is a more common scenario than the one where the gun scares away or kills the intruder.

The way to solve this problematic result? Shut down research.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:05 AM on January 16, 2013 [3 favorites]


The way to solve this problematic result? Shut down research.

And, just today ...

Obama Plan Eases Freeze On CDC Gun Violence Research
A little-known kibosh on government research into the public health effects of gun violence is expected to be lifted after President Barack Obama called Wednesday for renewed scientific inquiry -- and funding -- to address the problem.

Obama issued a presidential memorandum directing the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other scientific agencies to research the causes and prevention of gun violence -- and he called on Congress to provide $10 million to pay for it.

... The action immediately was praised by scientists who said pro-gun advocates -- including the National Rifle Association -- had choked off funding for CDC firearms research starting in the mid-1990s and imposed a chilling effect on those who dared to pursue it.
posted by ericb at 11:38 AM on January 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


The whole event is sad and appalling. I don't condone murder, however, I don't think the world is that much diminished by the death of a Neo-Nazi.

Regarding the discussions of whether or not the boy committed the murder deliberately with prior planning: I can't conceive of a 10 year old being able to fight off his father and commit murder while being physically abused. It would be next to impossible for a child to fight off an angry adult male, manage to go to a closet, get a weapon, then aim and kill on the spur of the moment. How many adult women are able to fight off an abusive spouse during the actual act?

Rage and fear can fester, and premeditation doesn't necessarily mean a murder is done 'in cold blood.' I didn't see any discussion of what happened in the hours prior to the murder. Was the boy abused physically or emotionally that morning or the day before?


"This was not a complex killing."
Leonard is an ass, and anyone who could possibly think this is an idiot.
posted by BlueHorse at 1:19 PM on January 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


I don't condone murder, however, I don't think the world is that much diminished by the death of a Neo-Nazi.

Think of it like this. The man's soul died before his body did. The kid put the capstone on a tragedy that was two years in the making.
posted by JHarris at 1:31 PM on January 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Then you have a problem with English common law since ever. You can go back to medieval times --- there's always been a recognised distinction between killing someone in the throes of an emotional crisis --- an argument that turns into a brawl, chasing after a robber or a rapist --- than killing someone after calmly and rationally deciding to do so and planning out a method that makes you less likely to get caught. Murder is wrong, and if you are capable of knowing that and deliberately choose to do it anyway that's worse than if you are in the middle of a fight or a flight and your anger gets the better of you.

I quite agree. We need to reward people who kill other people impulsively by giving them less jail time than people who premeditate. After all, who cares if somebody is dead? We need to focus on the important thing, which is that YOU WERE ANGRY. That's what counts most. As a side benefit, releasing those people earlier will also enable them more chances to pass any "impulsive killing" personality traits into the gene pool, and I think we can all agree that this is exactly what humanity needs more of - people who get angry and impulsively kill others on the spur of the moment, without thinking about it.

English common law sucks, is what I am trying to say.
posted by wolfdreams01 at 1:47 PM on January 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


Wow, I'm pretty sure you could keep 3 or 4 different farms clear of crows with that many straw men.
posted by P.o.B. at 2:24 PM on January 16, 2013 [6 favorites]


. You can go back to medieval times --- there's always been a recognised distinction between killing someone in the throes of an emotional crisis --- an argument that turns into a brawl, chasing after a robber or a rapist --- than killing someone after calmly and rationally deciding to do so and planning out a method that makes you less likely to get caught.

I quite agree. We need to reward people who kill other people impulsively by giving them less jail time than people who premeditate...


This distinction is the distinction between manslaughter and murder. There has always been an intent component (mens rea) to these kinds of crimes, and manslaughter generally comes with a lesser (but not insubstantial) sentence because there was no intent (to kill, at any rate). Nobody's getting 'rewarded'.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 2:39 PM on January 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


What the hell is wrong with you people. 10 YEARS OLD and tried as an adult.

WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH YOU PEOPLE? Yes, i'm shouting.
posted by glasseyes at 3:33 PM on January 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


HE WASN'T TRIED AS AN ADULT!
posted by the_artificer at 3:37 PM on January 16, 2013 [8 favorites]


LOUD NOISES.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 3:57 PM on January 16, 2013 [6 favorites]


GRAR
posted by dunkadunc at 5:06 PM on January 16, 2013


GRARRER!!!!
posted by glasseyes at 5:53 PM on January 16, 2013


I know the plural of 'anecdote' is not 'data,' but I will say that I did know a girl that was pretty much evil from about the age of two onward. We're talking animal abuse, fires, the whole nine yards. This was my godmother's daughter, and I'll grant you that I have no idea what her actual infancy was like, but jesus that kid was scary.

That said, this is a great big barrel of fucked right here. That poor kid.
posted by dogheart at 6:02 PM on January 16, 2013


I don't condone what he did, but this kid has all my sympathy. I hope they're getting him some therapy or any kind of help at all while he's in juvie. Does anyone know what's going to happen to the sister? Will her mother get custody?
posted by harriet vane at 9:05 PM on January 16, 2013


Two things to take away from this:

Child Protective Services royally screwed the pooch on this one. And a juvenile detention center is the right place for this kid. That's supposed to be a place where these types of kids go to get the kind of therapy they need.

The fact that many people fear for him going to juvie means that we have no effective way to either prevent this sort of violence, nor any way or rehabilitate the offenders.

At that point, screw it. Condone the violence, because not condoning the violence hasn't done shit for us.
posted by Blue_Villain at 9:22 PM on January 16, 2013


Who called CPS twenty times?
posted by asok at 6:00 AM on January 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Natasha Vargas-Cooper takes a deeper look at this case in Buzzfeed today.

Spoiler: It is a really goddamn stomach-turning portrait of a little boy abused and neglected basically from birth who then displayed the kind of attendant psychological problems one would expect as a result.
posted by Snarl Furillo at 4:58 PM on February 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


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