COBB COUNTY, Ga. — The highest court in Georgia on Wednesday overturned the murder conviction of Ross Harris in the 2014 hot car death of his son, 22-month-old Cooper, WSB-TV reported.
In an opinion released Wednesday morning, Georgia Supreme Court justices said they reversed Harris’ conviction “because the jury ‘heard and saw an extensive amount of improperly admitted evidence,’” WSB reported. The court upheld other convictions against Harris on sexual crimes committed against a teenager, according to the news station.
In an opinion shared Wednesday, the court said jurors heard several days’ worth of testimony about Harris’ extramarital sexual activities, saw hundreds of lewd and sometimes illegal sexual messages that Harris sent and were given full-page color photographs of Harris’ penis, which “ensured that the jurors did not miss the point that he was a repulsive person.”
“Much of this evidence was at best marginally probative as to the alleged offenses against Cooper, and much of it was extremely and unfairly prejudicial,” the court wrote.
Harris told police that he forgot to drop Cooper off at day care on the morning of June 18, 2014, and drove straight to his job as a web developer for Home Depot without remembering that his son was still in his car seat, The Associated Press reported. The 22-month-old died of hyperthermia after sitting for nearly seven hours in the backseat of Harris’ SUV, according to WSB.
Prosecutors argued that Harris intentionally killed his son in order to escape an unhappy marriage, WSB reported. Defense attorneys said that Harris loved his son and would have never hurt him intentionally.
A jury convicted him in November 2016 on eight charges, including malice murder and first-degree cruelty to children, according to WSB. A judge sentenced him to life without parole plus 34 years in prison, the news station reported.
The Georgia Supreme Court heard arguments in the case in January, according to the AP.
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