Opening statements begin in trial of woman accused of killing 6-year-old son

Opening statements began Friday, in the trial of a woman accused of killing her 6-year-old son last spring. Julissa Angelica Genrich Thaler, 28, is charged with one count of first-degree premeditated murder and one count of intentional, non-premeditated second-degree murder for the death of her son, Eli Hart.

Jury selection began early this week. According to Hubbard sister-station KSTP, a grand jury in Hennepin County indicted Thaler with one count of first-degree murder in January. Julissa Thaler was already charged with second-degree murder in the May 20 death of Eli Hart. The suburban Minneapolis mom was indicted on a first-degree murder charge.

According to KSTP reporter, Eric Chaloux, who is in the courtroom Friday, prosecutors told the jury that there is graphic evidence in the case and they won’t bring all of it into court – instead only choosing to show pictures. The actual exhibit will be available to the jury in the jury room.

“The only surprise in this indictment is how long it’s taken the County Attorney’s office to get one. We must all respect the undeniable fact that right now Ms. Thaler is presumed innocent, and at trial the defense will point out the reasonable doubts that lurk in the evidence,” Assistant Public Defender Bryan Leary said following the indictment.

He said prosecutors had offered Thaler a plea agreement on the second-degree charge, but accepting that would have meant agreeing to a 40-year sentence. She hadn’t responded to that offer before the January indictment.

Last May, Mound police stopped Thaler’s vehicle after she was spotted driving her car on a wheel rim and with a window smashed out. Search warrant documents filed say officers saw blood on Thaler, noticed a shotgun shell and spent casing in the vehicle, and saw a bullet hole in the back seat, as well as a broken-out back window.

When questioned, Thaler told police the suspected tissue matter in the backseat of her car was “deer meat that she had got from an unknown butcher overnight,” the warrant states.

As previously reported, court records say Thaler grew impatient as the investigation continued, so officers released her from the scene and gave her a ride home. However, officers then searched the vehicle and found Hart in the trunk, along with a shotgun.

The complaint states that officers immediately went to Thaler’s apartment after finding Hart, but she’d already left and was washing the clothes she’d been wearing. She was arrested nearby and had apparent blood and brain matter in her hair, authorities noted.

Hart’s father, Tory Hart, was trying to regain custody of his son at the time of his death. A judge had just restored Thaler’s custody of Eli 10 days before he died.