• Judge picks city of Brunswick for Ross Harris hot car trial

    By: Ross Cavitt

    Updated:

    COBB COUNTY, Ga. - A judge has picked the city of Brunswick for the location for the murder trial for a Cobb County father.

    A judge granted a motion in May to move Ross Harris' trial out of Cobb County. Court officials say Brunswick was the clear choice for the trial. Cobb County moved a high-profile trial there in 2007 as well.

    Harris is accused of leaving his young son to die in a hot SUV.

    Harris faces murder and other charges in the death of his son, Cooper, in 2014.

    "Experience has shown us when you have a remote location that jurors interest in the case is not that compelling as it is when it is in their own backyard," defense attorney Esther Panitch said.

    Panitch estimates the cost of this 327-mile change of venue will be six figures.

    [TIMELINE: The day Cooper Harris died]

    Channel 2's Ross Cavitt says jury selection will take place in September.

    [READ: 5 things to know about the Ross Harris trial]


    Harris' legal team asked for the change of venue after lawyers had grilled some 90 jurors. Around half had opinions so strong about Harris' guilt they were not suitable for the jury, and the intensity of those opinions seemed to surprise even the judge.

    Jury selection may only take a few weeks in Brunswick because the residents in Glynn County aren’t as vested in the case as those in Cobb County.

    “You have jurors who are a lot more aware than you do when it comes from somewhere else and experience has shown us that when you have a remote location that jurors interest in the case is not that compelling as it is when it is in their own backyard,” Cobb County Court Administrator Tom Charron said.

    The judge is expected to sign the order in another hearing case in August.

    Other trials moved out of Cobb County

    The Harris case is not the first in recent history to be moved from Cobb County.

    Stacey Humphreys, now on death row for killing two real estate agents, was tried in Brunswick. Lynn Turner, who poisoned her police officer husband, was found guilty in Perry, Georgia.

    Former Cobb DA Pat Head says he does not have fond memories of either murder trial he had to take on the road.

    “It was just a miserable experience,” Head said.

    Head told Channel 2’s Ross Cavitt moving the trials was costly to taxpayers and bringing witnesses to the remote courthouses was a logistical nightmare, but he believes prosecutors had an advantage.

    “In those cases where we went to Brunswick, the DA there provided us with some space. We had copy machines available to us if we needed something like an investigator to look at something he'd provide us with that,” Head said.

    Cavitt covered both trials and Berry defended both defendants.

    “It’s difficult on everybody. It’s tough to be out of your element. You don't know a lot about the demographics in that area so you want to talk to some local lawyers,” Berry said.

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