(COBB COUNTY, Ga.) — The Cobb County District Attorney’s Office announced Thursday that they will not retry a man accused of murdering his two-year-old son by leaving him in a hot car.
Ross Harris was convicted of all eight counts related to the death of his son, Cooper, on Nov. 14, 2016.
Cooper died on June 18, 2014 after his father left him in his car seat for approximately seven hours. Cooper was just 22 months old at the time.
Harris, who moved from Tuscaloosa, Alabama, to the Atlanta area for work in 2012, told police he forgot to drop his son off at day care on the morning of June 18, 2014, driving straight to his job as a web developer for Home Depot without remembering that Cooper was still in his car seat.
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.
The case attracted national attention.
The trial focused heavily on Harris’ extramarital affairs, including with girls who were underage.
In 2022, the Georgia Supreme Court reversed the counts related to Cooper’s death because the jury “heard and saw an extensive amount of improperly admitted evidence,’” the court said in a release.
WSB-TV spoke with legal experts after the counts were reversed, who said they weren’t surprised by the Supreme Court’s ruling. They said that during the trial, Cobb County prosecutors did a good job showing Harris was a lousy husband and a horrible person, but trying to show he intentionally killed his son was a little harder to prove.
The District Attorney’s office said that though they disagree with the Supreme Court’s decision, they are bound by it.
“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,” the D.A.’s Office said. “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.”
Harris stands convicted of the remaining counts of the indictment, including criminal attempt to commit sexual exploitation of children and dissemination of harmful material to minors.
He was sentenced to 12 years in prison on those counts.
“Cooper will always be remembered by this Office and those who fought for him,” the District Attorney’s Office said in a statement.
BREAKING: Cobb County prosecutors dismiss murder charges for #RossHarris in the death of his son Cooper, citing the GA Supreme Court’s limiting of evidence in the hot car case. @wsbradio https://t.co/zEy49aAMNY pic.twitter.com/ztQyI58gpR— Veronica Waters (@MissVWaters) May 25, 2023
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