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Mother charged with son's murder won't cooperate with competency exam

A judge who was expected to rule on whether Julissa Thaler, Eli Hart's mom, is competent to stand trial delayed the hearing and urged Thaler to cooperate.
Credit: Hennepin County Sheriff's Office

MINNEAPOLIS — In order to stand trial for second-degree murder in the shooting death of her son Eli Hart, a psychologist has to first recommend to the judge that Julissa Thaler can understand the proceedings and rationally consult with her attorney and participate in her defense.

But Judge Lisa Janzen says so far, Thaler has refused to take part in the competency evaluation.

Thaler has been in jail since May, following the discovery of her 6-year-old son's body in the trunk of her car during a traffic stop.

Court documents revealed police believe Thaler shot Eli multiple times with a shotgun while he was strapped into his car seat.

Eli's father, Tory Hart, is now suing Dakota County officials for placing Eli in Thaler's custody, despite countless red flags, including Thaler's own father pleading with the judge and sharing Julissa's long history with mental illness and substance abuse. A judge will have to decide in that civil case whether Tory Hart has standing to sue the county.

Meantime in the criminal case, no trial dates have been set for Thaler. If the judge eventually rules her incompetent to stand trial at the psychologist's recommendation, that would put the entire case on hold for at least six months while she receives treatment.

Thaler is scheduled to be back in court on Sept. 27, with hopes that she will have participated in the mental evaluation. 

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