Justin Ross Harris, a Georgia man serving a life sentence for killing his toddler son, Cooper, started a new hearing Monday morning, where his lawyer are arguing for a new trial. The hearing is scheduled to last until at least Wednesday.
Harris, who worked at the Vinings Home Depot headquarters as a web designer, left his 22-month-old son, Cooper, inside a hot SUV in the parking lot of the headquarters office on June 18, 2014, and walked into work.
Later that afternoon, Harris pulled his SUV over into the Akers Mill Square shopping center on Cobb Parkway and began screaming as he pulled Cooper from the vehicle.
According to witnesses, Harris attempted CPR on the toddler, although it was apparent Cooper was already deceased. A bystander also attempted CPR but later testified he could tell Cooper was dead.
“Justin was witnessed yelling, ‘Oh my god what have I done’,” the warrant read. “He then began doing CPR on the child. EMS responded to the scene. It was obvious that the child was deceased.”
According to Harris, he forgot to drop his son off at daycare and didn’t notice the boy was still inside the vehicle until he drove away from work at around 4:15 p.m. Harris insisted it was a terrible accident, but prosecutors during his 2016 trial proved otherwise.
Experts testified that the boy was likely dead by noon, given that the temperatures inside the car had reached around 98 degrees. Prosecutors said the car had a strong smell of “death” inside, which would have been impossible for Harris not to immediately notice. Yet, he drove through seven traffic lights before he pulled his car into the shopping center.
Other experts, however, argued that the smell of death would have taken much longer to come about.
Harris also returned to his SUV after his lunch break and dropped a bag of light bulbs on the front passenger seat. He claimed he didn’t notice that Cooper was there.
Prosecutors said Harris wanted to be free of responsibility and planned in advance how he would kill his son.
During the trial, jurors listened intently to testimony from eight women who had contact with Harris. Some had sex with Harris, who was married at the time, while others testified that they or exchanged sexually explicit texts and naked photos with him.
In 2016, a jury convicted Harris of malice murder and sentenced him to life in prison.
Harris is pushing for a new trial on grounds that “prejudicial testimony” made it an “absolute impossibility” for him to receive a fair trial. Harris’ defense team argued that showing evidence of affairs and sexual addiction tainted the jury’s view of Harris and had nothing to do with Cooper’s death.
The defense team also argued that the court stopped them from questioning the credibility of the police officers who testified during his trial, as well as “limitations of cross-examination, improper evidence being admitted, and discovery violations.”
If Clark decides to rule against the motion for a new trial in December, Harris has the legal right to appeal the ruling with the Georgia Supreme Court.
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[Feature Photo: Cooper Harris/Handout]