Justin Ross Harris, a Georgia man serving a life sentence for killing his toddler son, Cooper, is scheduled to have his appeal heard next week in state Supreme Court.
Defense lawyers plan to argue that “errors related to its evidentiary decisions” were made during Harris’ 2016 trial when he was found guilty of killing his son, 22-month-old Cooper.
According to the case overview, Harris is arguing that only three defense witnesses were called to the stand during his trial, which included two detectives and a computer expert. Further, Harris argues that his convictions of child cruelty and murder were baseless, without sufficient evidence.
The state contends that the evidence submitted was credible and enough to land Harris in prison.
As CrimeOnline previously reported, Harris, who worked at the Vinings Home Depot headquarters as a web designer, left 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 said “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.
In May 2021, a Cobb County judge denied Harris’ request for a new trial. The state Supreme Court is now scheduled to hear arguments on January 18.
Check back for updates.
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[Feature Photo: Handout/Justin and Cooper]