Referee Justin Ross Harris, the Georgian man convicted in the death of his infant son’s hot drive, has overturned

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Justin Ross Harris, who was convicted in 2016 of killing his 22-month-old son Cooper by leaving him in the back seat of a hot car, was overturned on Wednesday. The Georgia Supreme Court found that the lower court allowed improper evidence that may have overshadowed the jury’s verdict in the case.

In a 134-page opinion, Chief Justice David Nahmias noted that there was “strong evidence” on both sides of the case during the trial. Prosecutors provided an account that Harris wanted to kill his son so that he would be free of responsibility for pursuing relationships with the women he met online.

Harris’ defense made the case that Harris was a loving father who made the tragic mistake of going to work and leaving Cooper in the car, forgetting to leave him in foster care first.

“What was going through the appellant’s mind when he got out of the car?” Nehemias wrote, setting this as the main question in the case. The judge noted that “the state also provided a great deal of evidence to lead the jury to answer a different and more legally problematic question: What kind of man is an appellant?”

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Prosecutors from Cobb County, Georgia, flooded the registry with evidence of Harris’ extramarital affair, including sexual messages and photos he allegedly sent to women and even underage girls, as well as the hiring of a prostitute.

Nahmias wrote that the prosecution “convincingly demonstrated that the appellant was a visiting employer, a pervert and even a sexual predator,” but that it “did little to answer the main question about the appellant’s intent when he walked away from Cooper.”

What he likely did was “lead the jury to conclude that the appellant is the kind of guy who would engage in other disgusting behavior…and deserves punishment,” the chief justice wrote.

Nehemias ruled that much – but not all – of the evidence was incorrectly accepted due to its lack of probative value and its highly pernicious nature.

In this October 3, 2016 file photo, Justin Ross Harris listens during his trial at Glenn County Courthouse in Brunswick, Ga.  His young son died after being left in a hot car for hours.

In this October 3, 2016 file photo, Justin Ross Harris listens during his trial at Glenn County Courthouse in Brunswick, Ga. His young son died after being left in a hot car for hours.
(Stephen B. Morton/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP)

Nahamias wrote: “Because the properly acknowledged evidence that the appellant maliciously and willfully let Cooper die was far from overwhelming, we cannot say that it is highly probable that the wrongly-admitted sexual evidence did not contribute to the jury’s verdicts.” . “So we are rescinding the appellant’s convictions for the offenses against Cooper.”

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Harris’ attorney, Maddox Kilgore, told Fox News in a statement that he was “extremely excited” about the ruling, which he said was “not surprising.”

“The court for the state of Georgia allowed unlimited use of bad evidence, which we objected to all along,” Maddox said.

This is exactly how innocents are wrongly convicted.”

Maddox praised Harris’s appellate attorney Mitch Durham, saying he “did a fantastic job bringing the case to the Georgia Supreme Court.”


With Harris’s conviction overturned, prosecutors have the option to retry him. Cobb County District Attorney Flynn Brody’s office said in a statement that Brody intends to file a motion to reconsider the court’s decision.

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