Just over six years ago, dad, Justin Ross Harris had loaded his son into his SUV and was supposed to drop him off at daycare before heading to work. Harris’s son was just 22 months old at the time.
However, instead of dropping his son, Copper off at daycare, he drove straight to work. For hours, in the middle of the afternoon on June 18, 2014, Copper sat in the back of his father’s hot car, still buckled into his car seat.
Remember This Dad Who Left His Son in a Hot Car While Sexting With a Woman at Work, Well He Just Had One of His Convictions Overturned
Seven hours later, Harris returned to his car after completing a day at the office only to find his toddler son dead of hyperthermia. Initial reports later revealed that while his son was trapped in his SUV, Harris was sending sexually explicit messages to six different women.
During his trial, prosecutors argued that Harris left his son in his car on purpose in order to “be free to have sex with as many women as possible.” Now, Georgia’s highest court said that much of the evidence presented during the 2016 trial to prove he intentionally left Copper in the car that June 18th day “was needlessly cumulative and prejudicial.”
The court’s findings argued that it should have been excluded from the trial. As a result, the court reversed his “convictions on the counts charging crimes against Cooper.”
Chief Justice David Nahmias explained the court’s 6-3 decision, writing, “Because the properly admitted evidence that Appellant (Harris) maliciously and intentionally left Cooper to die was far from overwhelming, we cannot say that it is highly probable that the erroneously admitted sexual evidence did not contribute to the jury’s guilty verdicts.”
Further, the court decided to uphold the sexual crimes Harris was convicted of, however. Those charges included one count of exploitation of a child and two counts of dissemination of harmful material to a minor.
As the court continued to explain, “Through extensive evidence about Appellant’s extramarital sexual relationships — which included sending graphic sexual messages and pictures to multiple women, including minors, and hiring a prostitute — the State convincingly demonstrated that Appellant was a philanderer, a pervert, and even a sexual predator.”
Harris’s defense had maintained that Cooper’s death was a tragic accident and that he in no way intended to kill his son. In a statement, Harris’s legal team celebrated the legal win.
“We are thrilled that the Georgia Supreme Court has reversed Ross’s murder convictions, but make no mistake — this decision comes as no surprise. Inadmissible evidence can lead juries to wrongfully convict an innocent person.”
The statement concluded, saying, “Today’s decision mirrors the very same points that we made to the trial judge, and we were right. I only wish the trial court had listened.”
Ex-Wife of Ross Harris, Mom to Copper Harris Speaks Out After Learning of the Overturned Conviction
However, despite the conviction being overturned, Harris will remain in prison for his sex crimes for which he was sentenced to 12 years. Harris has been in prison since June 18, 2014, AJC reports.
A day later, Harris’s ex-wife and mother to their son, Copper, has shared her reaction to the court reversing his murder conviction. Despite the demise of their marriage, in 2017, Leanna Taylor admitted she “didn’t believe he palled the murder of his child — our child — I don’t believe that,” AJC reported.
In a new statement, Taylor told AJC on June 23 that this is “big news for Ross and his family. I know they are grateful for this turn of events.”
Taylor continued to say that “it would be my wish that this would help to change the way that Cooper was remembered.”
“While this will not change anything about my day-to-day life, I do hope that it shows people what those closest to the case have been saying since the beginning: Ross was a loving and proud father to Cooper,” Taylor said in a statement issued by her lawyer, Lawrence Zimmerman.
“At the same time, Ross was being a terrible husband,” she added in her statement. “These two things can and did exist at the same time.”
Taylor went on to say that it is in the best interest of everyone to stop “wasting precious resources on prosecuting the parents that this happens to,” and instead urged lawmakers to pass legislation that requires all vehicles to have safety alerts to prevent children from being left in hot cars.
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