Tuscaloosa Native Will Not Be Retried in 2014 Death of His Toddler
In a case that has taken nearly a decade to come to a close, Tuscaloosa native and University of Alabama alumnus Justin Ross Harris learned this week from the Cobb County, Georgia, District Attorney that he will not be retried for the 2014 death of his toddler, Cooper.
“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 Cobb County District Attorney's office said in a statement this week.
“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.”
Harris found himself convicted of murder in 2016 for leaving his 22-month-old son in a hot car in the Atlanta area, where he was working at the time, instead of dropping him off at daycare.
He was also found guilty of attempting to commit sexual exploitation of children and dissemination of harmful material to minors due to his texting relationship with a 16-year-old up through the day of his son's death.
That decision was overturned in November of 2022 by the Georgia Supreme Court because, while the prosecution did paint Harris as a careless and promiscuous young father, they failed to prove that Harris left his son in the Hyundai Tucson on purpose.
What happens now?
The overturned murder conviction does not mean he will be immediately released from custody. He is still serving the 12-year sentence imposed for sex crimes he was convicted of in 2016 case.
He is expected to be released from custody in 2028.