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Minnesota woman with history of mental illness and addiction found guilty of shooting and killing her 6-year-old son

A Minnesota woman who asked a store clerk for ammunition that ‘would make the biggest hole’ was found guilty on Wednesday of fatally shooting her 6-year-old son just 10 days after she regained full custody of him, in a case that raised questions about the behavior of child protection workers.

Jurors in Hennepin County District Court deliberated for less than two hours before finding Julissa Thaler, a 29-year-old Spring Park woman with a history of mental illness and addiction, guilty of first-degree murder in the death by Eli Hart.

The charge carries a mandatory life sentence. Sentencing is scheduled for February 16.

Investigators say Eli was shot in his mother’s car in a parking lot at Lake Minnetonka Regional Park in Minnetrista. Police found the body in the trunk on May 20 after arresting her for a traffic violation.

During closing arguments, defense attorney Bryan Leary said she had a hand in the boy’s death but was not the one who shot him. He said no eyewitnesses, photos or video linked her to the murder, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported.


“She is not charged with the crime that they have proven,” Leary said. “She destroyed evidence, lied to police, fled, but they failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the gun was in her hands when she shot her son nine times. “

Thaler did not testify and his defense did not call any witnesses.

Hennepin County Assistant District Attorney Dan Allard said overwhelming evidence, including cellphone data linking her to all sites involved in the death, showed Thaler killed her son, either for money from life insurance, because of his mental health or after the stress of a custody battle with the boy’s father.

A Minnesota woman has been convicted of murdering her 6-year-old son. (FoxNews)

He noted that the boy’s DNA was found in Thaler’s hair, skin and clothing. If she didn’t shoot him, Allard said, why didn’t she tell the police when she pulled over, “Oh my God, someone shot my son – he’s in the trunk!”


Her ex-boyfriend, Tory Hart, manager of a bait and tackle store in Chetek, Wisconsin, has filed a lawsuit alleging child protection workers ignored signs forerunners before the death of his son. He had filed a motion for custody shortly before the murder and at trial told jurors that his son was “everything to me”.

Hart’s lawsuit and other documents obtained by the Star Tribune lay out a series of issues.

Among other things, the police intervened at Thaler’s home in Farmington 21 times in 10 months. She was arrested for stealing drugs from a health clinic and had to find a new drug testing center due to “weird behavior”.

Thaler lost custody of Eli twice, first in October 2020 and then for most of 2021.

Robert Pikkarainen, another ex-boyfriend of Thaler, testified at trial that she and Eli had a fight the day before he died because he didn’t want to go to bed.

She left the apartment and put a recently purchased shotgun in the car, grabbed her son and got out, he said.

Pikkarainen, who has not been charged, said he fell asleep and asked her where she had been when he woke up the next morning.


“She was kind of like, ‘I had to go do something,'” Pikkarainen said.

Later that day, Thaler was pulled over while driving with a completely worn tire, the rim scraping the road and the rear windshield blown out.

Officers escorted her home before continuing to search her vehicle. Eli’s body was in the trunk wrapped in a blanket.

Fox Gt

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