Justin Ross Harris, the Georgia man convicted of murder in the hot car death of his 22-month-old son Cooper, seeks a new trial in Cobb County. The hearing is expected to possibly run Monday through Wednesday. You can watch in the player above.
According to documents obtained by Law&Crime, the defense maintains that Harris was denied a fair trial and due process when the trial court denied a motion to several “unrelated and improperly joined offenses”: The defendant had also been tried for sending sexual messages to an underage girl around the time Cooper passed away. The state, led by then Cobb County Chief Assistant District Attorney Chuck Boring, argued that the defendant was fed up with family life. It is why Harris killed his son, they maintained.
Monday morning at 9 a.m. ET on @LawCrimeNetwork we’ll be LIVE in the the #HotCarDeath #JustinRossHarris hearing on defense motion for a new trial. Harris was convicted in 2016 for the murder of his 22-month-old son, Cooper, who died in his car while he was at work. pic.twitter.com/RUNwQDVSg0
— Cathy Russon (@cathyrusson) December 14, 2020
In a motion, the defense asserted that these joined charges only served to inflame the jury’s emotions and deprive Harris of a fair trial.
“By refusing to sever the unrelated counts involving internet-based sexual communications, the trial court required Ross Harris to defend against emotional charges of the intentional murder of a child after drowning the jury in the morally reprehensible and inherently bad character evidence associated with any sexually-based offense,” stated the original 2017 motion for a new trial. “If the goal was to create an atmosphere and forum eliminating the possibility of a fair determination of Defendant’s guilt or innocence on the murder and cruelty charges…the denial of severance assured success.”
The defense also maintained that the trial included evidence unlawfully and unconstitutional seized from the defendant’s personal property, including his phones. They also asserted bad character evidence was actually in reference to his relationship with his wife, not his son Cooper.
Harris remains locked up on a prison sentence of life without parole plus 32 years.
[Mugshot via Georgia Department of Corrections]
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