A 10-year-old boy charged with murdering his white supremacist father told investigators that he shot the man after growing tired of him hitting him and his stepmother, court documents showed on Wednesday.
In the hours after the shooting, the boy told investigators he thought Jeff Hall, 32, was cheating on his stepmother and that he might have to choose who to live with, according to a police declaration filed in Riverside County.
The blonde-haired boy from Southern California told investigators he went into his parents' closet, pulled a revolver off a low shelf, went downstairs and aimed the gun at his father's ear while he was asleep and shot him. He later hid the gun under his bed, according to court documents.
"It was right there on the shelf," the boy told investigators, according to the police declaration filed Tuesday in support of an arrest warrant for his stepmother Krista McCary on nine felony charges of child endangerment and criminal storage of a gun.
A phone number for McCary, 26, could not be immediately located.
The declaration was made public on the same day that the boy _ whom The Associated Press is not identifying and is not being charged as an adult _ appeared in juvenile court for a hearing on the charge that he murdered Hall, a regional leader of the National Socialist Movement who led rallies at day labor sites and a local synagogue.
At the hearing, the juvenile court appointed a psychologist to advise the boy's defense attorney about his client's mental state. Deputy Public Defender Matt Hardy declined to comment on the allegations of abuse except to say that he was "exploring everything" in his defense of the boy.
The boy did not enter a plea and will return to court July 22.
McCary did not attend the boy's hearing Wednesday.
According to the police declaration filed in the case against McCary, Hall's dead body was found on the couch with a gunshot wound to the left side of his head on Sunday May 1.
In the hours after the shooting, McCary told investigators that Hall hit, kicked and yelled at his son to punish him for being too loud or getting in his way. She said he had also been violent against her and pushed and spanked the boy's younger sisters, the declaration said.
McCary also told detectives that Hall had taken his son target shooting when they went on a trip to the border, so he knew how to shoot guns, and "admitted that the revolver was on a low shelf where the kids had access to it," the declaration said.
"Those children knew where that gun was and they could reach it," said Ambrosio E. Rodriguez, senior deputy district attorney who is prosecuting the boy's murder case.
Investigators said the house located in a tidy cul-de-sac in the suburbs 60 miles east of Los Angeles was filthy, with dirty clothing covering the floors and a stench of urine in the bedrooms. Empty beer bottles were strewn across the downstairs and National Socialist Movement and California flags were hanging in the living room.
In the garage, investigators found a .22 caliber rifle leaning against a wall and an unlocked cabinet about 10 feet away with ammunition.
Investigators reported that three of the five children living in the home knew where the couple kept their gun.
The boy's four sisters were placed in protective custody following the shooting.
Hall _ who said he was proud to fly the swastika and believed in a white breakaway nation _ was widely known in Riverside for organizing neo-Nazi protests and his failed bid last year for a seat on the local water board. His candidacy frightened many residents in the suburban region, which experts say has seen a rise in hate groups.
Court records show Hall and his ex-wife Leticia Neal slugged through a divorce and dispute over the custody of their two children nearly a decade ago. Each accused the other of child abuse. In 2003, the boy and his sister were removed from Neal's home when her 3-month-old twins by another father were hospitalized for failing to thrive.
Hall's children had bruises and injuries but social workers could not determine their origin or the extent of any abuse.
Hall was granted custody of the children in 2004.
Last year, Neal filed for joint custody, saying Hall's neo-Nazi ties made her "scared of what will happen to my kids."
Hall opposed the request, noting the children had not received a call from their mother in six years and were now doing better in classes and participating in after-school activities, according to court filings in the custody case.
The boy was being taught at home as a pupil of the River Springs Charter School.
The day before Jeff Hall's death, he held a regular meeting of members of the National Socialist Movement at his home.