A 41-year-old father’s 2016 murder conviction was overturned after the Georgia Supreme Court found the jury ‘unfairly’ heard he was cheating on his wife and was texting a 16-year-old girl.
Justin Ross Harris was sentenced to life in prison for the death of his son, Cooper, who was left in the vehicle for seven long hours.
The Supreme Court agreed that prosecutors in his 2016 trial shouldn’t have told the jury about his conviction for exchanging explicit messages and graphic women with girls and women.
It was on June 18, 2014, when Harris told police that he forgot to drop his toddler off at daycare before going to Home Depot where he worked.
Little Cooper was still strapped in the back seat of his car and died of hyperthermia after spending seven long hours in his car seat in the SUV parked outside of his father’s place of work.
However, his defense attorneys said Harris loved his son and called his death a ‘tragic accident.’
While Harris’ conviction for murder was overturned, his conviction related to s*x crimes against a teen was upheld.
The court argued that the father’s s*xual activity reports should not have been taken into the jury’s consideration in connection with the toddler’s tragic death.
The majority of justices believe the jury “heard and saw an extensive amount of improperly admitted evidence,” arguing prosecutors created a narrative for the jury to think that the father ‘intentionally’ left his child inside the hot vehicle for seven hours.
Chief Justice David Nahmias wrote in the decision: “Because the properly admitted evidence that Appellant (Harris) maliciously and intentionally left Cooper to die was far from overwhelming, we cannot say that it is highly probable that the erroneously admitted s*xual evidence did not contribute to the jury’s guilty verdicts.
“We therefore reverse Appellant’s convictions on the counts charging crimes against Cooper.”
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