A Minnesota woman convicted of fatally shooting her 6-year-old sonjust days after regaining custody was sentenced on Feb. 16th 2023 to life in prison.
Julissa Thaler, 29, was convicted 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 car’s 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.
During the sentencing, a framed class photo of Eli was placed in front of the judge as loved ones spoke about the 6-year-old, CBS News Minnesota reported.
Eli’s former foster mother, Nikita Kronberg, said the boy “meant the world to so many people. He was so kind and amazing. Always had a smile on his face. He made friends so easily and wanted to explore all the time.”
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.”
When Thaler was asked if she wanted to address the court, she said, “I’m innocent. F— you all. You’re garbage,” CBS News Minnesota reported.
After the sentencing, the family said they were focusing on fundraising for a playground in Eli’s honor.