On Monday, Justin Ross Harris, 35, was found guilty on all counts in the murder of his 22-month-old son Cooper Harris. The toddler died after he was left in a hot car in a suburban Atlanta office park in June, 2014.
Count 1 Malice Murder (Mandatory life sentence) - GUILTY
Count 2 Felony Murder (Mandatory life sentence) - GUILTY
Count 3 Felony Murder (Mandatory life sentence) - GUILTY
Count 4 Cruelty to Children in the First Degree (5-to-20 year sentence) - GUILTY
Count 5 Cruelty to Children in the Second Degree (1-to-10 year sentence) - GUILTY
Count 6 Criminal Attempt to Commit a Felony (10 year sentence) - GUILTY
Count 7 Dissemination of Pornography to Minors (12 month sentence; $5,000 fine) - GUILTY
Count 8 Dissemination of Pornography to Minors (12 month sentence; $5,000 fine) - GUILTY
After a change of venue from Marietta to downstate Brunswick, the trial proceeded through more than 20 days of witnesses from the prosecution and defense, and was followed by four days of jury deliberation before ending in the verdict that was handed down.
Harris and his defense team continued to maintain that Cooper's death was a tragic accident, and that nothing in the state's evidence proved otherwise.
Friends and family members testified that Harris was a devoted and loving father. The jury saw video clips of Harris trying to teach Cooper to say 'banana' and letting the boy strum his guitar.
Harris' ex-wife, Leanna Taylor also came to his defense, though during her testimony she told the jury he 'destroyed my life.' Taylor divorced Harris last March. During her testimony, she said he was a loving father, who loved his son deeply, and would have never intentionally harmed him in any way.
The prosecution said that Harris deliberately left Cooper in the car, and told others that he wanted to live a child-free life. Their evidence included videos, photographs, cellphone records, emails, texts, and other data that point toward that end.
Prosecutors argued Harris must have known Cooper was in the rear seat of his SUV. He drove less two minutes from a Vinings Chick-fil-A restaurant to his office less than a half-mile away.
Parking lot surveillance video images showed Harris also went to his car after lunch and tossed in some light bullbs he had purchased, though he never got inside the car.
In addition, Harris, who was married at the time, was carrying on what prosecutors called a "double life," exchanging sexually provocative texts and images with other women, some underaged -- and that may have contributed to his desire to live a child-free life.
Harris was also found guilty of exchanging text messages and images with an underaged girl, which included images of his genitalia. Evidence showed he asked for photos of the girl's genitals.
“Today is not a victory, nor is it a day we celebrate. In fact, today is a monumentally sad day,” Cobb County District Attorney Vic Reynolds said in a statement. “This has been a 29-month journey culminating in this guilty verdict. I want to thank the community of Glynn County for their hospitality and the Cobb Police Department for their hard work. And I certainly want to thank all the members of DA’s Office who worked on this case. It was a true team effort, and I believe justice was served today on behalf of young Cooper Harris.”
Superior Court Judge Mary Staley Clark has set Harris' sentencing for December 5 at 1:30 p.m. at the Cobb County Courthouse in Marietta.
Our panel of legal experts have weighed in on who they think won and why:
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