The Associated PressRiverside County prosecutors charged the boy with murder involving the use of a gun after reviewing the facts surrounding the early Sunday morning shooting of Jeff Hall, a 32-year-old plumber who had carried a swastika flag and led rallies outside a local synagogue and day labor site.
Prosecutors declined to provide additional details until the boy enters a plea but said the case is highly unusual because of the boy's age.
"To say it's unheard of is not hyberbole in this case," said Ambrosio E. Rodriguez, senior deputy district attorney. "This is extremely rare. It is almost unheard of — until today."
The small, blonde-haired boy appeared in juvenile court in Riverside Wednesday in an orange detention shirt, khaki pants and handcuffs. But his detention hearing was delayed to May 18 in what deputy public defender Matt Hardy said would be a "long haul" of a case.
Hardy said county social workers have monitored the boy's family since 2003 out of a concern for his welfare amid allegations of abuse or neglect. He said he did not have details of the allegations but requested the files and a psychiatric evaluation of the boy before entering a plea in two weeks.
"We have to look at the things that are mental elements," Hardy told The Associated Press late Wednesday. "Whether he pulled the trigger or not is not the end of the inquiry."
Judge Charles J. Koosed on Wednesday ordered the boy to remain at juvenile hall. After the hearing, the child requested a visit with his step-mother and grandmother.
Authorities believe the shooting was intentional but declined to comment on a motive — except to say they do not believe Hall's neo-Nazi affiliation played a role.
There were no reports of a disturbance or argument before the shooting was reported to police at about 4 a.m. Sunday, Blevins said.
The boy is being tried in juvenile court because he is under 14 years old and prosecutors cannot charge him as an adult, said John Hall, a spokesman for the Riverside County District Attorney's office.
Relatives of the boy who attended the hearing declined comment on the case. His mother, Leticia Neal, said she is looking into hiring a private attorney but only learned of the shooting on Monday.
Hall's four other children have been placed in protective custody.
Court records show that Hall was granted custody of the two children he had with Neal. The Los Angeles Times reported that Neal sought reunification with her children and in Hall's court filings in response to her request he described his son's troubled past, saying he had been removed from several schools for "his wild and sometimes violent actions."
Hall was southwest regional leader of the National Socialist Movement, an organization that advocates white supremacy. He led rallies against illegal immigration and outside a local synagogue, stoking outcry from a host of community groups and residents concerned about the rise in hate groups in the vast suburbs southeast of Los Angeles.
Hall, who advocated for a breakaway white nation, also lost a bid last year for a seat on the Western Municipal Water District board in Riverside.
The Anti-Defamation League considers Hall's organization to be the country's largest neo-Nazi group.