A mother charged with violently murdering her six-year-old son is refusing to cooperate with a competency evaluation needed to let her trial proceed, KARE11 reports.
During a traffic stop in May, police discovered the body of Julissa Thaler’s son, Eli Hart, in the trunk of her car, WCCO-TV reported at the time, citing documents that said police searched the car upon spotting blood on Thaler’s hand, along with a shotgun shell, a spent shell casing, and a bullet hole in the backseat. The criminal complaint also says a shotgun was also found in the trunk.
Police arrested 28-year-old Thaler that same day, and she has been in jail since, though despite Judge Lisa Janzen ordering a competency evaluation to determine if Thaler is able to comprehend the court process, Thaler is refusing to undergo the process, KARE11 says.
Thaler is scheduled to appear in court again on Sept. 27, giving her time to cooperate with the evaluation, according to KARE11. A trial date has yet to be set, however, and if the judge rules that Thaler is incompetent to stand trial, it could delay the process by six months while Thaler receives treatment, KARE11 says.
KSTP reports that state law permits the court-appointed examiner to give their opinion as to whether Thaler’s refusal to participate is due to cognitive impairment or not. If so, KSTP adds, Judge Janzen could prevent Thaler from giving evidence pertaining to her mental state and strike any previous evidence introduced regarding her mental health.
KSTP adds that trial would not proceed until Thaler is found competent.
People Magazine previously reported that Eli was placed into foster care with a family member in January 2021, during which time Eli’s father, Tory, was allowed unsupervised visits.
The family’s GoFundMe page claimed that Thaler filed “several false Orders of Protection”, preventing Tory and Eli from having a relationship before Eli spent eleven months living with the family member.
Thaler was granted full custody of Eli on May 10, 2022, despite an alleged history of unstable housing, mental health issues, and a history of traffic violations, KSTP previously reported in August.
A CBS report in August said that Tory Hart filed a lawsuit against Dakota County, two social workers, and a court-appointed guardian, seeking $75,000 in damages in the aftermath of his son’s death.
KARE11 states that the court-appointed guardian still pushed for a permanency plan to put Eli with his mother once more despite Tory and other family members voicing concern over Thaler’s mental health and ability to provide for Eli, a plan endorsed by a judge which say Eli returned to Thaler a mere ten days before she allegedly murdered him.
Tory’s lawsuit alleges that while Thaler pulled the trigger, ultimately the lack of action from Dakota County provided the “proximate cause” of Eli’s death, KARE11 reports.