Prosecutors Won’t Retry Father Whose Son Died in Hot Car

Prosecutors have decided not to retry a Georgia father whose son died after leaving him in a hot car, nearly a year after the Georgia Supreme Court effectively dismissed the case against Justin Ross Harris. The court quashed his conviction for culpable homicide and child cruelty.

The Cobb County District Attorney’s office said it has thoroughly reviewed the case over 11 months. The Supreme Court of Georgia ruled that the evidence of Mr. Harris’s sexual activities presented at his trial was “grossly and unfairly prejudicial” and could have been influenced by it. A jury convicted him in 2016.

Prosecutors presented evidence to support their claim that Mr Harris had deliberately left his son Cooper, aged 22 months, to die so he could have sex with women he met online. Can have sex. Mr Harris’ lawyers said he had simply forgotten the boy was in the car.

“Critical incriminating evidence that was first admitted at trial in 2016 is no longer available to the state due to the Supreme Court’s majority decision,” the district attorney’s office said in a statement. “Therefore, after much thought and consideration, we have made the difficult decision not to retry Justin Ross Harris on the reversed count of the indictment.”

The district attorney’s office said Mr. Harris has been convicted of other charges related to his sexual activities, including criminal attempt to sexually exploit children and dissemination of material harmful to minors. Barring a decision by the state Board of Pardons and Parole, he will continue to serve his 12-year sentence on those counts, the office said.

Lawyers for Mr. Harris said Cobb County Superior Court Judge Robert Leonard on Thursday signed an order ending the lawsuit against Mr. Harris, nine years after Cooper’s death.

“Ross has always accepted moral responsibility for Cooper’s death,” attorneys Maddox Kilgore, Carlos Rodriguez and Brian Lumpkin said in a statement. “But after all these years of investigation and review, the dismissal of the charges confirms that Cooper’s death was unintentional and therefore there was no crime.”

On the morning of June 18, 2014, Mr. Harris, a Web developer at Home Depot, locked the door of his Hyundai Tucson and drove to work. In its ruling last June, the Pittawa court said that rear-facing car seats on the back seat. Cooper, who was kept in the car for about seven hours, died of hyperthermia.

According to the Georgia Supreme Court ruling, Mr. Harris’ lawyers claimed that he was “a loving father who never abused Cooper and had simply but tragically forgotten that he had done this particular thing.” The child was not left in the morning.”

But during the trial, prosecutors presented extensive evidence of Mr. Harris’ extramarital sex to support their theory that he had left Cooper to die so he could “further his sexual relationships with these women.” to achieve his dream of being free to expand, whom he met online.” The Supreme Court said.

The court said jurors heard from a dozen witnesses about Mr. Harris’ sexual activities, saw hundreds of lewd and sometimes illegal sex messages he exchanged with young women and girls, and saw them with their penises. Nine images were shown.

The Georgia Supreme Court said the evidence “conclusively established” that Mr. Harris was “an altruist, a pervert and even a sexual predator.”

The court ruled the evidence did “little, if anything” to answer the question of why Mr Harris had left Cooper in the car that morning.

Instead, the evidence likely led the jury to conclude that Mr. Harris was “the kind of man who would engage in other morally repugnant conduct (such as leaving his child to die a painful death in a hot car) and Joe deserved the punishment, even if the court ruled that jurors were not convinced that he killed Cooper intentionally.

After last June’s ruling, the district attorney’s office said it disagreed with the decision and planned to ask the court to reconsider. On Thursday, the office confirmed that the Georgia Supreme Court had denied the request.

In a statement on Thursday, Mr. Harris’ lawyers said that charging parents like Mr. Harris’s “perpetuates the more common, but false, belief that only bad parents can have memory impairments that result in a child’s memory.” Gets forgotten in the car.”

“Indeed, in the course of representing Ross, we have learned that these tragic accidents often occur while the child is in the care of a loving parent,” he said. “Ross was no different. He loved Cooper very much.

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