A 13-year-old National City boy who claims he was regularly abused by his father admitted in court that he fatally shot the man in the chest during an argument.
The boy testified Thursday under questioning by defense attorney Barbara Davis and before Juvenile Court Judge Federico Castro. The teen-ager was not identified because of his age.
The former Granger Junior High School student could be sentenced to a maximum of 12 years in a California Youth Authority institution if he is convicted of the murder of Lepolious Miller III, 36.
Miller died from a single bullet from a .22-caliber pistol Oct. 28.
The boy and his 12-year-old brother are under guardianship of their paternal grandmother, Mildred Grier, and her husband, James. The Griers filed for custody of the children after alleging that the boys' father had inflicted emotional and physical abuse on them.
The boy said on the stand that his father beat him.
"He said he could kill me if he wanted and get away with it," the boy said. "He said he could do anything he wants to me."
In the hours leading up to the killing, the boy testified, his father spanked him for not showing him a progress report that contained an "F" grade.
After the spanking, the boy said, he went into his grandparents' bedroom and took a gun out of a box on the top shelf of a closet. He said he wrapped the gun in a pair of jeans and hid it in his closet, telling his brother not to tell anyone, otherwise he would shoot himself.
The boy testified that, after returning from a basketball practice, he and his father argued about going to Saturday classes to improve the failing grade. The youth testified that he refused to go.
He said he ran upstairs and got the gun. He said he put one bullet into the gun's chamber and came downstairs to his grandmother's kitchen, where he confronted his father.
"First, I said, 'I hate you,' a couple of times," the boy said. His father kept moving toward him, saying, "Put the gun down," and "Let's talk," the boy testified.
"I said, 'If I put the gun down, you'll beat me,' and he said, 'You're probably right,' " the boy said, purportedly quoting his father.
As his father reached for the gun, the boy testified, "I shot him." He saw his father stumble and fall against a wall.
The boy was scheduled to be cross-examined by Deputy Dist. Atty. Carlos Armour on Monday, when the trial is set to resume.