The Georgia Supreme Court docket on Wednesday overturned the homicide conviction of a Georgia father sentenced to life in jail after he left his 22-month-old son in a scorching automotive.
Chief Justice David Nahmias wrote in his opinion that “the big quantity of misadmitted proof” offered throughout Justin Ross Harris’s 2016 trial influenced the jury’s responsible verdict. A few of this proof included graphic photographs and particulars about Harris’ extramarital affairs.
“A lot of this proof was, at finest, marginally probative concerning the alleged crimes in opposition to Cooper, and far of it was grossly and unfairly biased. returned on Cooper-related prices,” Nahmias mentioned.
“If an appellant is discovered responsible of those crimes, it have to be executed by a jury untainted by this type of proof. For these causes, we vacate the appellant’s conviction on Cooper-related counts.”
Harris was convicted of homicide with malice and different prices on June 18, 2014, for the demise of his younger son Cooper, who was left in Harris’ Hyundai Tucson for seven hours in sweltering warmth whereas his father was at work.
The case and lawsuit acquired worldwide consideration as prosecutors alleged that Harris intentionally left a younger boy within the automotive. They mentioned that Harris, who was married on the time, needed to eliminate parental duty so he may hunt down sexual relationships with prostitutes and girls he met on-line.
Prosecutors instructed jurors that Harris additionally despatched sexual textual content messages to a number of girls and underage women, together with some on the day of Cooper’s demise. Harris’ spouse, Leanna Taylor, ultimately filed for divorce. She has by no means been charged with any wrongdoing.
On the day the kid died, Harris needed to take his son to daycare earlier than he went to work at Dwelling Depot in suburban Atlanta. The couple had breakfast at Chick-fil-A earlier than Harris drove to work, prosecutors mentioned.
Harris found that his son was nonetheless within the automotive after leaving work. Cooper’s explanation for demise was listed as hyperthermia.
His legal professionals argued throughout the trial that Harris forgot his son was within the automotive as a result of he modified his morning routine.
Along with homicide with malice, Harris was additionally convicted of homicide, first and second diploma youngster abuse, sexual exploitation, and distribution of dangerous supplies to minors. He was sentenced to life in jail with out the potential for parole.
The Supreme Court docket upheld the allegations of exchanging obscene textual content messages and pictures with an underage woman, noting that the prosecutor’s workplace “convincingly demonstrated that the applicant was a con man, a pervert, and even a sexual predator.” Nevertheless, it said that these crimes “did not reply a key query concerning the applicant’s intentions when he left Cooper.”
Now Harris can search a brand new trial associated to his son’s homicide. Carlos J. Rodriguez, an lawyer for Harris, welcomed the information.
“We’re more than happy that the Georgia Supreme Court docket has overturned Ross’s homicide conviction, however make no mistake, this resolution didn’t come as a shock. Inadmissible proof can result in a jury wrongfully convicting an harmless individual. Right now’s resolution displays the identical factors we made for the trial decide, and we had been proper. I solely want the trial courtroom would pay attention,” he mentioned in a press release.