Thursday, January 20, 2022

Justin Ross Harris, who left a baby in a sweltering car to die for an appeal in the Georgia Supreme Court

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Harris is serving a life sentence in Macon State Penitentiary, and the defense is expected to argue that prosecutors misused his extramarital affairs

Justin Ross Harris, the father convicted in 2016 of killing his child by leaving him in a hot car, will appeal to the Georgia Supreme Court next week. Harris is currently serving a life sentence at Macon State Prison, and the defense is expected to argue that prosecutors misused evidence of Harris’ multiple extramarital affairs to conclude that he deliberately killed his son, Cooper Harris, in order to have one to escape from a failing marriage.

The 22-year-old reportedly died as a result of a horrific event in which his father left him in the back seat of his car for hours in the middle of heat waves. When Harris filed for a new trial in December 2020, Cobb Superior Court Judge Mary Staley Clark heard identical arguments. Clark denied the request in May 2021, claiming that the evidence was sufficient to establish Harris’s beliefs beyond a reasonable doubt.


Justin Ross Harris’ parents say he did not ‘intentionally’ kill the 22-month-old grandson by leaving him in a hot car

Clark previously presided over Harris’ first trial in 2016, in which his infidelity and transgressions were among the more scandalous aspects of the trial that drew national attention. Searches of Harris’ text messages and social media interactions revealed that while he was married to his then-wife Leanna Cooper, he exchanged sexual messages and pictures with a 17-year-old girl.

In the Supreme Court appeal, Attorney Mitch Durham said that while a large amount of sexual impropriety was exposed in the communications, the state selected some instances from them to shatter Harris’s image. Along with the murder charges, Harris was convicted of many sex crimes for his involvement with a juvenile. Durham also claims that the concurrent hearing of the charges created in the jury’s mind the idea that the sex offenses and murder charges were linked. “The evidence does not support the state’s claims that (Harris’) sexual messages, texts, conversations and actions were intertwined with Cooper’s death,” Durham said. Meanwhile, prosecutors claim that Harris’s dalliances were instrumental in establishing a motive for his child’s targeted murder.

“In this case,” the prosecutor’s brief said, “evidence of Harris’ intent made it more likely that he murdered his child and less likely that it was an accident.” Another point of contention in the appeal will be the involvement of Dr. David Diamond as a neuroscientist to testify for the defense as an expert on motivating parents to leave their children in overheated cars.

The defense abandoned the idea at the last minute after the court ordered him to turn over notes he made during private pretrial sessions with Harris. Harris will also challenge the use of a 3D model of his car in court, as well as the restrictions placed on cross-examination by two Cobb County Police Department investigators. The arguments in the case begin on Tuesday, January 18, at 10 a.m.

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