Ross Harris, whose murder conviction for the 2014 hot car death of his toddler son was overturned by Georgia’s Supreme Court last year, will not be retried.
The decision was approved on May 25 by Cobb County Superior Court Judge Robert Leonard. But could a newly revived case regarding Harris’ various sex-related offenses keep him in jail? To unpack what’s next for Ross Harris, Cox Media Group’s Nicole Bennett spoke with Philip Holloway, legal analyst for 95.5 WSB in Atlanta, who has extensively covered the case since 2014.
>> Listen to the full episode below.
Over the years, the case of Ross Harris has attracted national attention.
On the morning of June 18, 2014, Ross Harris was supposed to take Cooper to daycare on his way to work at Home Depot in Vinings, Georgia.
Ross and Cooper, who was 22 months old, ate breakfast at a nearby Chick-fil-A restaurant around 8:57 a.m. After breakfast, Harris drove his car, an SUV, to the Home Depot office where he worked in IT, with Cooper strapped in a rear-facing car seat in the back. He entered the office at 9:25 a.m., leaving Cooper in his car seat.
Around 12:30 p.m., Ross Harris was picked up from work by two friends to have lunch at a nearby Publix. After lunch, they stopped at a store where Harris purchased light bulbs. His friends then dropped him off at his workplace parking lot. He walked to his SUV, opened the driver’s side door, and placed the bulbs inside.
At 4:16 p.m., approximately seven hours after leaving Cooper in his SUV, Ross Harris returned to the vehicle and drove it away from his office. After driving for a few minutes, Harris realized Cooper was still in the back seat and later claimed that he immediately pulled into an outdoor mall parking lot to call for help and attempt CPR. Cooper was unresponsive.
Ross told responding officers that he’d simply forgotten to drop his son off at daycare that morning, instead driving straight to work. Temperatures that day reached 92 degrees.
Evidence surfaced after Cooper died that ultimately led to Ross Harris’ arrest in his son’s death. He was charged with several counts related to Cooper’s death and in November 2016, a jury found him guilty on all counts, including malice murder. A judge sentenced him to life without parole, as well as 32 more years in prison for crimes related to his relationships with other women and sending inappropriate messages/material to a minor.
During his trial in 2016, prosecutors argued that Ross Harris was unhappy in his marriage and intentionally killed his son to free himself. To support this theory, they presented extensive evidence of extramarital sexual activities that he engaged in, including exchanging sexually explicit messages and graphic photos with women and girls and meeting some of them for sex.
Defense attorneys described him as a devoted father and said that Cooper’s death was a tragic accident.
Pan to June 22 of last year – Georgia’s highest court overturned the murder and child cruelty convictions against Ross Harris. And last month, the Cobb County District Attorney’s Office announced prosecutors would not retry Ross Harris for murder in this tragic case.
Listen to the full episode above for more on a newly revived indictment that could keep Ross Harris in jail.
Beyond Criminal Headlines is a podcast in which Cox Media Group’s Nicole Bennett sits down with experts who’ve investigated some of the most notorious cases in U.S. history. Find the latest ‘Beyond Criminal Headlines’ content on any podcast provider or listen on demand here.
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