Cobb County Prosecutors Will Not Re-Try Ross Harris for Toddler Death

Prosecutors say they will not re-try a Cobb County father Jutin Ross Harris for the death of his young son after the state supreme court reversed his conviction. The Cobb County District Attorney’s Office stated in a news release Thursday that their office “would not retry Justin Ross Harris for the hot car death of his 22-month-old son, Cooper.”

The reason given by the District Attorney’s office for its decision was that the Georgia Supreme Court reversed Harris’ conviction based on the Supreme Court’s assessment that certain evidence should not have been admitted during the trial and that wrongfully admitted evidence was highly prejudicial and prevented Mr. Harris from receiving a fair trial. Prosecutors argued at trial that Harris was unhappily married and killed his son on purpose to free himself. Defense attorneys described him as a doting father and said the boy’s death was a tragic accident.

A brief history of the criminal proceedings against Harris include that he was “convicted in 2016 of malice murder and first-degree child cruelty. Harris was sentenced to life without parole, and also was sentenced “32 more years in prison for other crimes.” However, as reported, :In 2022, the Georgia Supreme Court revered Harris’ conviction in a 6-3 majority, ruling that the trial court “erroneously allowed the State to admit motive evidence relating to the defendant’s sexual crimes and activities.”

The office of the Cobb County District Attorney elaborated on its decision to not re-try Harris, alleging that the Georgia Supreme Court deprived the district attorney’s office from using compelling evidence. “Crucial motive evidence that was admitted at the first trial in 2016 is no longer available to the State due to the majority decision of the Supreme Court,” prosecutors stated in the release. “Therefore, after much thought and deliberation, we have made the difficult decision to not retry Justin Ross Harris on the reversed counts of the indictment.” Georgia Supreme Court Chief Justice David E. Nahmias wrote for the majority in reversing Harris’ conviction.

Harris, however, despite the Georgia Supreme Court ruling and the decision not to re-try him, is not a free man at this moment. “Harris is currently serving a 12-year sentence on charges of criminal attempt to commit sexual exploitation of children and dissemination of harmful material to minors.”

Harris offered a narrative to explain him leaving the child in a hot car to die. As reported, “Harris told police he forgot to drop his son off at day care on the morning of June 18, 2014.” Harris  added that he drove “straight to his job as a web developer for Home Depot without remembering that Cooper was still in his car seat.” News reports claim that “Cooper died after sitting for about seven hours in the back seat of the vehicle outside his father’s office in suburban Atlanta, where temperatures that day reached at least into the high 80s.”

For a news report video explaining the Georgia Supreme Court ruling and its impact on the Cobb County Prosecutor’s decision not to retry Harris, see here.

D & B Staff

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Episode 129