Riverside Superior Court Judge Judge Jean Leonard acknowledged that the boy, who was 10 at the time of the fatal shooting, had experienced a life of abuse and neglect, but the judge also found the child plotted and executed a plan he understood was wrong when he killed his father, 32-year-old Jeff Hall.
"Because of his age, it would be very difficult for any court to make what I thought was the correct legal finding. The judge did that in this case," said Michael Soccio, chief deputy district attorney of Riverside County.
The boy shot his father in May of 2011. Hall was a regional leader of the National Socialist Movement, a neo-nazi organization.
"There was a lot of interest in this case based on the fact the father was a neo-Nazi and somehow that had something to do with the killing," Soccio told reporters outside the courthouse. "It's my position that had little if anything to do with the fact the son killed him."
Prosecutors argued the boy planned out the attack before orchestrating it. During closing arguments, defense attorney Matt Hardy argued the boy acted in self defense, suffered from a neurological disorder and was pre-programmed for criminal behavior.
Despite Hardy's claims, the judge ruled the boy knew right from wrong at the time of the killing and intentionally fired the gun. She stated the suspect was not a naïve little boy and because of his upbringing knew more about guns and violence than the average child.
While prosecutors won the case, both sides said it was an emotional loss.
Defense attorney Matt Hardy was overwhelmed by the ruling.
"He's a human being who's got some really positive and normal and decent and good desires," Hardy said following the verdict. "There's not a racist bone in his body. He's just somebody we owe a lot more to than what we've given so far."
Hardy said he plans to appeal. He hopes the boy, if convicted, would not be sent to a juvenile lockup but rather be placed in a private facility that offers therapy, medical treatment and schooling. The boy could be held behind bars until his 23rd birthday.
"What I am afraid of is this young man is going to go to a place where we create murderers and we create serial killers and that's just morally reprehensible," Hardy said.
The next courtroom hearing is scheduled to take place on Feb. 15 and will determine where the boy will be placed.