Georgia judge dismisses murder, child cruelty charges in toddler’s hot car death
Murder and child cruelty charges have been dismissed against a man whose toddler died in a hot car nine years ago, according to a Georgia judge’s order signed Thursday.
Justin Ross Harris, 42, was convicted in November 2016 on eight counts including malice murder in the death of his 22-month-old son, Cooper. A judge sentenced him to life without parole as well as 32 more years in prison for other crimes.
The Georgia Supreme Court in November voted 6-3 to overturn his murder and child cruelty convictions, saying the jury saw evidence that was “extremely and unfairly prejudicial.”
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The Cobb County district attorney’s office, which prosecuted the case, said in a statement that while it disagrees with that ruling, crucial motive evidence is no longer available to the state as a result of it. Therefore, prosecutors decided not to retry Harris on the reversed counts.
The high court upheld Harris’ convictions on three sex crimes committed against a 16-year-old girl that Harris had not appealed. He received a total of 12 years in prison for those crimes, and he will continue to serve that sentence, the district attorney’s office said.