Justin Ross Harris, the father who left his 22-month-old son to die locked in the back of a sweltering SUV is now facing life in prison. Furthermore, the jury also found him guilty of eight more other counts. These sum up to an additional sentence of 42 years behind bars.
However, prosecutors did not go for the death penalty. Instead, they vigorously argued that the man left his son, Cooper, to die in order to escape his duties as a father. The incident in question occurred in mid-June 2014. The defense attorneys say that Mr. Harris accidently forgot about the little boy. Moreover, they intend to file for a new trial, as well.
Events Leading up to Cooper’s Tragic Death
On June 18th, 2014, Justin Harris took his son with him for breakfast in Marietta, Georgia. After finishing his meal, Mr. Harris drove to The Home Depot headquarters, his workplace. During this whole time, Cooper was sitting in the rear-facing car seat of the SUV. According to the testimony, Justin Harris left his son in the car out in the sun while he was at work.
After Mr. Harris got out from work, sometime around 4 p.m., he drove to a theater to see a movie. It was then when the father noticed that his son was still in the car. Witnesses say that Mr. Harris stopped the car into a nearby parking lot and pulled out Cooper’s lifeless body. According to them, the father was experiencing a great deal of pain and was screaming in agony.
The Evidence Against Mr. Harris
However, Chuck Boring, the Cobb County District Attorney is not entirely convinced of Mr. Harris’ lapse in memory. In his closing argument he presented the theory that Mr. Harris’ intentionally killed his son to escape from his family duties.
Furthermore, the prosecution says that Mr. Harris was able to see his son siting in the back seat the whole time. Hence, the lapse in memory is out of the question, as far as his defense goes. Moreover, the investigators pulled digital evidence which suggested that Mr. Harris was also unfaithful to his wife. The prosecution revealed a series of sexual messages exchanged between the defendant and multiple women. And all of this happened on the same day Cooper lost his life.
Among the women Mr. Harris was chatting with, there was also a minor. The prosecution lawyers accused the defendant of leading a double life. However, Harris’ defense argued that his sexual behavior was not a motive for killing his son. Instead, the defense lawyers said that prosecution was trying to bury Mr. Harris in “filth of his own making”.
Leanna Taylor, Cooper’s mother was a key witness for the defense. Although barely holding back her tears, she took Harris’ side. She believed that the father really forgot about his son in the car. However, Ms. Taylor also said that the couple was experiencing marital struggles for a while. Nevertheless, she describes her husband as a devoted parent.
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