Eli Hart killing: Prosecutors offer deal to mom Julissa Thaler

Prosecutors have offered the mother accused of killing her 6-year-old son and hiding his body in the trunk of a car a deal to plead guilty to second-degree murder. 

Julissa Thaler, of Spring Park, is charged with second-degree murder, with intent, in the killing of Eli Hart on May 20. She's accused of shooting Eli up to nine times with a shotgun in her vehicle and then hiding his body in the trunk. 

She was found competent to stand trial last month. It was revealed on Friday that the state offered Thaler 40 years in prison to plead guilty to the second-degree murder charge. She has until the end of the month to accept the deal, or it's off the table. 

A trial date is set for Jan. 30, 2023. Given the offer, prosecutors may be willing to indict Thaler on first-degree murder charges if she doesn't take this deal, according to FOX 9's Paul Blume. 

Meanwhile, Thaler's attorney asked for her to be released on $0 bail and electronic home monitoring, writing she "is a person of good character and sound judgment" with no criminal history. The judge rejected that motion. 

"The defense is disappointed in the Court’s ruling –while the Court believed Ms. Thaler poses a flight risk and a risk to public safety, she had no convictions or history of not appearing for court.  A trial date is now set, and we shall be prepared to defend this case," defense attorney Bryan J. Leary told FOX 9. 

Thaler's attorney is also seeking for the case to be tossed out completely. Another court filing shows her attorney is seeking to suppress all the evidence in the case. 

The case

Orono Police pulled Thaler over on May 20 after she was spotted driving on the rim of her car and with a window smashed out. Officers drove Thaler home, and then discovered Eli's body in the trunk. She was then arrested.

Thaler was found competent to stand trial during a brief court hearing on Tuesday afternoon. She appeared via Zoom in an orange jumpsuit from Hennepin County Jail.  

Thaler, who initially did not fully cooperate with a psychiatrist evaluation, did so this time, and the judge ruled Thaler has the ability to rationalize and understand the criminal proceedings as well as consult with her defense attorney.  

Now that Thaler has been found competent to proceed, the criminal case can proceed to trial. Thaler's next hearing is scheduled for 9 a.m. on Oct. 7. 

RELATED: Fundraising efforts continue for Eli Hart Memorial Playground

This news comes a few weeks after Eli's father, Tory Hart, filed a wrongful death lawsuit related to his son's killing, seeking more than $75,000 in damages. The lawsuit says Dakota County Social Services provided services to Eli, with Tory Hart claiming the county and its employees were negligent. Dakota County and two Dakota County employees, Sherri Larson and Beth Dehner, were named in the lawsuit. 

Tory Hart had been fighting for custody of his son prior to his death. Tory Hart's fianceé, Josie Josephson, told FOX 9 the boy's mother struggled with drug addiction and mental health issues, and despite their repeated calls for help, his biological mom was awarded full custody of Eli before his death.