Julissa Thaler sentenced to life for 6-year-old son’s death

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — A Minnesota woman convicted of fatally shooting her 6-year-old son just days after regaining custody was sentenced Thursday to life in prison.

Julissa Thaler, 29, was convicted last week of first-degree murder in the October 2022 death of Eli Hart, who prosecutors said was shot nine times by his mother as he sat in his booster seat.

Officers found the boy’s body in the trunk after a traffic stop.

Eli’s father, Tory Hart, has sued Dakota County Social Services, alleging that employees returned his son to Thaler despite concerns about her alleged drug use and deteriorating mental health.

In closing arguments during the trial, Thaler’s defense attorney, Bryan Leary, acknowledged she participated in the boy’s death but said she was not the one who shot him.

Eli’s stepmother, Josephine Josephson, said in a victim impact statement for herself and Tory Hart that “the pain is so deep you can’t breathe.”

“You can’t explain the loss of your only son … then to have lost him in such a horrible way, you just can’t explain how that changes your life,” she said.

When given a chance to respond after victim impact statements, Thaler said she was innocent and directed an expletive toward those in the courtroom, The Minneapolis Star Tribune reported.

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