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 Jeff Hall, but deciding the fate of his son has been a two-and-a-half-year journey that approaches its final stage on Friday in a hearing to determine where he will spend his teens and, possibly, his early adult years.
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, attacked his school teachers and was indoctrinated in the beliefs of white supremacy.
Lawyers have argued for months over what is best for the boy. He has been living in the county's juvenile hall since the killing, but spent about three months at a state youth detention centre where he was evaluated to see whether a placement there could serve his needs.
In the meantime, the small child who scribbled on a notepad and looked bored during his trial as prosecutors displayed photos of his father's blood-splattered body has grown into a gangly teenager.
He attends class, gets regular therapy and has made progress in controlling the violent outbursts that got him kicked out of almost every school he attended. 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 the 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 Soccio believes the boy, now 13, would do best in the state's juvenile justice system, where he would go to school and live in a dorm-like setting at a high-security facility for young offenders, possibly until he is 23.
Defence lawyers, however, say he has serious emotional disabilities that the state is not equipped to handle. They want to see him placed in a residential treatment centre, where security would be lighter and the therapy would be more intense.
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. "It is a very dangerous place for him. He's got a lot of vulnerability here," she said. "When he comes out at 23, we've got a huge problem."
Murders by defendants as young as the one in Riverside are extremely rare and usually involve children who have mental health issues and have lived through extreme physical and psychological trauma, said Sarah Bryer, the director of the National Juvenile Justice Network.
"If the end goal is rehabilitation, then that youth's mental health concerns are going to have to be front and centre," she said. "I think the judge has to ask the question, when this kid walks out and this kid will walk out eventually how is this kid going to be better?"
Hall's killing on 1 May 2011 attracted national attention, and not just because of the defendant's age. Hall, an out-of-work plumber, was also a regional leader of the National Socialist Movement who organized neo-Nazi rallies at synagogues and day labour sites and had hosted a meeting of the group at his house the day before he died. Hall, 32, ran unsuccessfully for a water board in 2010 and alarmed voters with his white supremacist rhetoric.
Prosecutors said the boy shot his father behind the ear at point-blank range 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 initially told police she had killed her husband, but later recanted and said she was trying to protect her stepson. His sister testified that he told her of his plan the day before.
During the trial, the boy's lawyer portrayed him as a victim of both his father's racist beliefs and of his violent upbringing.
The boy's stepmother told authorities that Hall had hit, kicked and yelled at his son for being too loud or getting in the way. Hall and the boy's biological mother had each accused the other of child abuse during a protracted custody dispute. Social workers visited 20 times, but never removed the boy or his siblings from Hall's custody.
The child had a history of being expelled from school for violent outbursts, starting aged five when he stabbed a teacher with a pencil on the first day of kindergarten. He also tried to strangle a teacher with a telephone cord.