The blond boy was 10 when he put a gun to the head of his sleeping neo-Nazi father and pulled the trigger.
It was over in an instant for Mr Jeff Hall, but sorting out the fate of his troubled son has been a 2½-year journey that approaches its final stage next week.
The judge hearing the case must decide, not how to punish a child for second-degree murder, but how to rehabilitate someone who grew up in an abusive home and was indoctrinated in the beliefs of white supremacy.
Joseph Hall, now 13, has been living in a California juvenile facility since the murder, NBC News reported.
He attends class, gets regular therapy and has made progress in controlling his violent outbursts.
He has even won the affection of the prosecutor who got him convicted.
"I have grown attached to him in an odd way. I enjoy watching him grow and change but I am convinced he has done better in a quasi-military penal environment," said Deputy District Attorney Michael Soccio.
"He seems to like it, he knows what the rules are and what is expected and he is treated with dignity."
That's why Mr Soccio believes it would be best for the boy to go to school and live in a dorm-like setting at a high-security facility for young offenders, possibly until age 23.
Ms Punam Patel Grewal, the boy's lawyer, said he would also be at risk in a state facility because of his father's neo-Nazi beliefs.
Prosecutors said the boy shot his father behind the ear as he slept on the sofa after coming home from a night of drinking.
The child took the .357-Magnum from his parents' bedroom and later told police he was afraid he would have to choose between living with his father and his stepmother, who had been fighting and were headed for a divorce.
The boy's stepmother told authorities that Mr Hall had hit, kicked and yelled at his son for being too loud or for getting in the way.
Social service workers visited 20 times but never removed the boy or his siblings from Mr Hall's custody.
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