Prosecutors in Georgia have decided not to retry Justin Ross Harris for his young son’s death, following the reversal of his conviction last year.
According to Fox 5 Atlanta, the Cobb County District Attorney’s Office announced the decision during a news release on Thursday. The decision comes almost a year after the Georgia Supreme Court overturned Harris’s convictions for malice murder and child cruelty in the death of his 22-month-old son, Cooper.
The DA’s office conducted an 11-month investigation following Harris’s murder acquittal and determined that the 2016 trial was “extremely and unfairly prejudicial” because of the details surrounding his sexual misconduct, The New York Times reports.
“Crucial motive evidence that was admitted at the first trial in 2016 is no longer available to the state due to the majority decision of the Supreme Court,” the DA’s office said in a statement.
“Therefore, after much thought and deliberation, we have made the difficult decision to not retry Justin Ross Harris on the reversed counts of the indictment.”
As CrimeOnline previously reported, Georgia Supreme Court Chief Justice David E. Nahmias reversed the murder in child cruelty charges in June 2022, following a previous hearing where defense lawyers laid out reasons why they deemed the convictions unfair.
Harris, who worked at the Vinings Home Depot headquarters as a web designer in Cobb County, 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 has maintained that it was a terrible accident.
During the 2016 trial, prosecutors focused on Harris’s sexual misconduct with underage girls and how he sent text messages to someone while Cooper remained trapped inside the vehicle.
Jurors heard testimony from eight women who had contact with Harris. Some had sex with him, while others testified that they exchanged sexually explicit texts and naked photos with him.
Harris didn’t contest his convictions on sexual exploitation of a child, which happened after he sent sexually-charged messages to a teen girl via a dating site in 2016.
He was sentenced to 12 years in prison on those charges, which means despite the conviction reversal, he will remain in prison for now.
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[Feature Photo: Handout/Cooper family]