GLYNN COUNTY, Ga. - A Cobb County father has been found guilty of murder in his son’s hot car death.
After several days of deliberations, jurors convicted Ross Harris on all counts, including malice murder, two counts of felony murder, cruelty to children in the first degree, cruelty to children in the second degree, criminal attempt to commit a felony to wit: sexual exploitation of children and two counts of dissemination of harmful materials to minors.
Harris’ 22-month-old son, Cooper, died on June 18, 2014, when Harris left him inside his SUV outside his office for nearly seven hours.
He showed little to no emotion as the verdict was read Monday afternoon. Harris' attorney, Maddox Kilgore, appeared to be the most upset, hanging his head and telling the judge they really didn't have anything they wanted to say about sentencing at this time. Kilgore has already said they will appeal several aspects of the case. During trial, he asked for a mistrial three times, but the judge denied all his requests.
“Today is not a victory, nor is it a day we celebrate. In fact, today is a monumentally sad day,” Cobb County District Attorney Vic Reynolds said about the verdict. "This has been a 29-month journey culminating in this guilty verdict. I want to thank the community of Glynn County for their hospitality and the Cobb Police Department for their hard work. And I certainly want to thank all the members of DA’s Office who worked on this case. It was a true team effort, and I believe justice was served today on behalf of young Cooper Harris.”
Prosecutors argued that it was intentional. They said Harris was living a double life and wanted to escape his family life to be “the other Justin Ross Harris.” During trial, they brought in multiple women who were sexting with Harris on the day of Cooper’s death, including a minor and a woman Harris claimed to love. Prosecutors said Harris wanted to live that life full time, but wouldn’t leave his wife as long as his son was alive.
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The defense said despite Harris’ moral failures, he loved his son and would never intentionally hurt him. They argued that it was just a tragic, horrible accident and Harris was devastated by Cooper’s death.
Detectives testified during the trial that they became suspicious because of Harris' statements and actions during his interview with police. Harris was arrested at the scene and charged with murder that same day. In the interview room, Harris argued with detectives, telling them he didn’t understand why he was being charged, because “there was no malicious intent.”
Harris’ trial was originally scheduled to begin in May in Cobb County, but after weeks of jury selection, the defense argued that it would not be able to find an unbiased jury and requested a change of venue.
DAILY SUMMARY STORIES:
- Lawyers give closing arguments in Ross Harris hot car death trial
- Defense rests its case in Ross Harris hot car death trial
- Prosecution rests its case in Ross Harris hot car death trial
- Ross Harris' ex-wife gives tearful testimony in hot car death trial
- Judge denies defense's request for mistrial in hot car death trial
The judge granted that request and the trial was moved to Brunswick, Georgia, in Glynn County.
Jury selection began again in September and a jury was seated in less than two weeks. The trial began on Oct. 3.
After 22 days of testimony and 70 witnesses, 52 for the state and 18 for the defense, the jury began its deliberations.
Sentencing will take place Dec. 5 at 1:30 p.m. in Cobb County.
The District Attorney's Office said Harris is facing a maximum of life in prison without parole plus an additional 42 years.
We will stream sentencing LIVE on WSBTV.com/Ross-Harris-Trial. There you can also find minute-by-minute coverage as well as a daily summary from each day of the trial. Like Ross Harris Updates on Facebook and follow @RossHarrisTrial on Twitter for updates.
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