Trials

Georgia dad sentenced to life in prison for son's death in hot SUV

Justin Ross Harris was convicted of murder in hot-car death of his 22-month-old son

 

A Georgia dad convicted of murder after his 22-month-old son died in a hot SUV was sentenced Monday to life in prison with no chance of parole.

Jurors last month convicted 36-year-old Justin Ross Harris of malice murder and other charges in the June 2014 death of his toddler, Cooper. The malice murder conviction means they believed Harris left the young boy to die on purpose.

Prosecutors said at trial that Harris intentionally killed his son to escape the responsibilities of family life. They showed evidence he was engaging in online flirting and in-person affairs with several women who were not his wife, including a prostitute and an underage teenager. Defense attorneys said the boy's death was a tragic accident.

More on this...

Harris wore an orange jumpsuit and showed little emotion, often looking down at the ground, as Cobb County Superior Court Judge Mary Staley Clark read the sentence. Malice murder carries a sentence of life in prison, either with or without the possibility of parole.

Cooper Harris died after sitting for about seven hours in the back seat of his father's SUV outside the office where Harris worked in suburban Atlanta on a day when temperatures reached at least into the high 80s.

The dad said he forgot to drop his son off at day care that morning, driving straight to his job as a web developer for Home Depot, not remembering that Cooper was still in his car seat.

Harris had moved from Tuscaloosa, Alabama, to Georgia for work in 2012.

After determining during nearly three weeks of jury selection in April that pretrial publicity had made it too difficult to find a fair jury in Cobb County, where the boy died, Superior Court Judge Mary Staley Clark granted a defense request to relocate the trial.

A jury in Glynn County, located on the Georgia coast about 60 miles south of Savannah, spent about a month listening to evidence in the case and deliberated for four days before finding him guilty last month of all eight counts against him. In addition to malice murder and felony murder charges, Harris also was found guilty of sending sexual text messages to a teenage girl and sending her nude photos.

Harris moved from Alabama to Georgia for work in 2012.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.