NATIONAL NEWS

Murder, cruelty charges dismissed in Georgia toddler’s hot car death

May 25, 2023, 12:59 PM

FILE - Justin Ross Harris listens during his trial at the Glynn County Courthouse on Oct. 3, 2016, ...

FILE - Justin Ross Harris listens during his trial at the Glynn County Courthouse on Oct. 3, 2016, in Brunswick, Ga. The murder and child cruelty charges against Harris, whose toddler died in a hot car nine years ago have been dismissed, according to an order signed Thursday, May 25, 2023. (Stephen B. Morton/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP, Pool, File)
Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS

(Stephen B. Morton/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP, Pool, File)

ATLANTA (AP) — Murder and child cruelty charges have been dismissed against a man whose toddler died in a hot car nine years ago, according to a Georgia judge’s order signed Thursday.

Justin Ross Harris, 42, was convicted in November 2016 on eight counts including malice murder in the death of his 22-month-old son, Cooper. A judge sentenced him to life without parole as well as 32 more years in prison for other crimes.

The Georgia Supreme Court in November voted 6-3 to overturn his murder and child cruelty convictions, saying the jury saw evidence that was “extremely and unfairly prejudicial.”

The Cobb County district attorney’s office, which prosecuted the case, said in a statement that while it disagrees with that ruling, crucial motive evidence is no longer available to the state as a result of it. Therefore, prosecutors decided not to retry Harris on the reversed counts.

The high court upheld Harris’ convictions on three sex crimes committed against a 16-year-old girl that Harris had not appealed. He received a total of 12 years in prison for those crimes, and he will continue to serve that sentence, the district attorney’s office said.

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Murder, cruelty charges dismissed in Georgia toddler’s hot car death