Minnesota mother accused of killing son ruled competent

September 29, 2022

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — A judge in Minnesota has ruled a mother accused of fatally shooting her 6-year-old son is mentally competent and can assist with her own defense.

Julissa Thaler is charged with second-degree murder in the May 20 death of Eli Hart. The suburban Minneapolis woman is accused of shooting her son multiple times and then hiding his body in the trunk of her car.

Orono Police pulled Thaler over after she was spotted driving her car on a wheel rim and with a window smashed out. Search warrant documents filed in the case say officers who spoke with Thaler on the scene noticed blood on her face and hands, and what they suspected were human remains spattered on the inside of the vehicle.

She was arrested after officers found the boy’s body in the trunk.

Thaler appeared remotely in court Tuesday afternoon when a Hennepin County judge ruled Thaler has the ability to rationalize and understand the criminal proceedings as well as consult with her attorney.

The hearing comes a few weeks after the boy’s father, Tory Hart, filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Dakota County Social Services for returning the boy to Thaler after he was removed from the home despite what Hart maintains were numerous red flags about her fitness as a parent.

Hart had been fighting for custody of his son prior to his death.

Thaler’s next court appearance is set for Oct. 7.