Julissa Thaler: Mother accused of murdering 6-year-old son found competent to stand trial

Lavinia Thompson

After refusing to cooperate with a competency evaluation, a judge has deemed Julissa Thaler fit to stand trial for the violent murder of her six-year-old son, KSTP reports.

Tuesday’s hearing revealed that Thaler finally agreed to undergo the court-mandated competency evaluation to determine whether she is able to comprehend the court process and converse with her defense team, KSTP says.

The 28-year-old woman has been charged with second-degree murder after police found the body of her son, Eli Hart, in the trunk of her car after pulling her over for driving erratically and driving on one of the car’s rims without a tire on May 20, according to the criminal complaint.

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Julissa ThalerHennepin County Jail

Thaler is accused of shooting Eli up to nine times while he was strapped into his car seat, only ten days after she regained custody of him, the criminal complaint says. Eli spent eleven months in the custody of family members after concerns were raised about Thaler’s mental health and her ability to care for him, the criminal complaint adds.

Tory Hart, Eli’s father, filed for custody of Eli six days before the shooting, and gave the judge a detailed history of Thaler’s mental health, the Star Tribune reported in May.

Since Eli’s death, Tory has filed a lawsuit against Dakota County employees for what he deems the negligence that led to Eli’s death, the lawsuit documents say. CBS reported that Tory seeks more than $75,000 in damages.

KSTP reports that Thaler didn’t address the court during Tuesday’s hearing, but the trial can now proceed with the evaluation complete.

“It would be nice to get things finally going, hopefully, and get some justice for Eli. One way or another there will be a day that will come where justice is served,” said Josie Josephson, Tory’s fiance, according to KSTP.

Bryan Leary, Thaler’s defense attorney, said Thaler “is hopeful that she’ll be released from jail to prepare her defense and grieve her loss. In jail, in a cage, her grief has no place to go,” KSTP reported.

A group of community members have started a GoFundMe to build a permanent memorial in Eli Hart’s name, and to raise funds and awareness for children in foster care, according to the GoFundMe page.

“The city of Mound was planning on building a new playground at Surfside Beach but due to lack of funds, the project was put on hold. This is the perfect opportunity for us to build a playground in honor of Eli - he loved playgrounds and especially loved monkey bars!” the organizers wrote on the site.

KTSP reports that Thaler’s next court date is scheduled for October 7.

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Long time true crime lover and blogger who has spent years reading and studying criminal psychology. I also write mystery fiction books, and have a diploma in journalism.

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