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

Friday morning, opening statements began in the trial of a woman accused of killing her 6-year-old son last spring.

As previously reported, Julissa 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.

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Hart’s father, Tory Hart, was the first person called to the stand by prosecutors on Friday. He told jurors about his little boy who loved to blow bubbles, fish and play with toy cars.

“He was everything to me … he completed my life,” Tory Hart told the jury.

SEE ALSO: Complaint: Boy found in car trunk was shot ‘up to 9 times,’ mother charged with murder

Prosecutors explained to jurors that they would limit some evidence in detailing Eli Hart’s final moments due to its shocking nature. However, prosecutor Britta Rapp said Thaler “pulled the trigger no less than nine times, brutally ending the life of her 6-year-old son.”

“She wanted the ammo that would blow the biggest hole in something,” Rapp added.

Defense attorney Rebecca Noothed said Thaler “loved her son more than anything” and claimed she bought the shotgun only for their protection, not to kill her son.

RELATED: Eli Hart’s mother found competent to stand trial in his murder

Mound police stopped Thaler’s vehicle last May after she was driving it with one of the front tires missing and was riding straight on the rim. A criminal complaint states 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.

Thaler had previously been offered a plea deal of 40 years in prison, which falls in line with the maximum sentence for second-degree murder in the state.

Earlier this week, jury selection began in the case. Last month, a grand jury in Hennepin County indicted Thaler with one count of first-degree murder. Her attorney issued the following statement to 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS following that indictment:

“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

Testimony continued late into the afternoon on Friday.

Jurors will return Monday when the trial continues.

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