Joseph Hall

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Joseph Hall
Born July 24, 1987
Milton, FL
Died June 25, 2006
Milton, FL
Parents Tracy Riley

Joseph Andrew Hall (known to friends as Joey or Joe) was a young Milton man who was killed by former U.S. Marine Brandon Ward on June 25, 2006.

Born July 24, 1987, Hall attended Milton High School and graduated in 2005.[date uncertain]

On June 24, 2006, Hall was a guest at a party also attended by 16-year-old Samantha Sparling and her 20-year-old boyfriend Brandon Ward. According to witnesses, Ward participated in wrestling games with other attendees; shortly thereafter, he found Sparling engaged in a sex act with one of the party's hosts, Nick Cote. Sparling told others at the party that Ward had struck her, and he was forced to leave the party. (She later testified that this was a fabrication to conceal her embarrassment.)

After being comforted by partygoers, Hall offered to escort her home with his friend Joseph Ruinato and another girl. When they arrived at Sparling's Munson Highway house in the early morning hours of June 25, Ward was already present. An altercation ensued, and Ward stabbed both Hall and Ruinato three times with a butterfly knife. Ruinato was taken to a hospital by Baptist Life Flight, but Hall died on the scene of the injuries.

Ward was tried for the murder of Hall and the attempted murder of Ruinato. Defense attorney Leo Thomas, invoking Florida's "Stand Your Ground" law, claimed Ward had a right to use deadly force at Sparling's house, where he stayed on weekends. He also cited Hall's MySpace page, which had the address "joehallwillkillyourfamily" and featured a violent music video by band "Waking the Cadaver," as supposed evidence of Hall's violent nature and reason for Ward to fear him. However, prosecutors also found a message from Sparling in Hall's MySpace inbox, inviting him to another party at her house, and countered that she would not have invited him if there were known hostilities between Ward and Hall.[1]

A jury found Ward guilty on May 24, 2007, and he was sentenced to life in prison for Hall's murder on July 19.

In July 2009, the Florida First District Court of Appeal reversed Mr. Ward's convictions for the Hall murder and Ruinato attempted murder. The case is being returned to the original court for eventual retrial.


  1. "Networking sites play new roles in legal battles." Pensacola News Journal, July 19, 2007.