Following a five-week trial, Justin Ross Harris has been found guilty on all counts, including the murder of his 22-month-old son Cooper. The jury of six men and six woman deliberated for four days before backing the prosecution’s contention that Harris intentionally locked his child in the back of a hot car for seven hours where he was essentially baked to death. In addition to the murder charge, Harris was also found guilty of two counts of cruelty to children and three counts relating to electronic exchanges of lewd material with two minors, with whom he was sexting while his son lay dying in the parking lot of his job at Home Depot corporate headquarters in suburban Atlanta.
By all accounts, Harris was a devoted 33-year-old father when he packed his son into the back of his Hyundai Tucson and headed off to work on the morning of June 18, 2014. However, despite his outgoing appearance as a doting Dad, Harris was a sex addict, who repeatedly cheated on his wife, hooking up with women he met online, soliciting prostitutes and sexting with two underage girls. After getting breakfast at Chick-fil-A, Harris bypassed Cooper’s daycare and went straight to work. According to the defense, Harris simply forgot his son was in the car, and was distraught after realizing his mistake after leaving work at 4 p.m. to go to a movie.
According to prosecutors, Harris intentionally killed Cooper so he could be free of the responsibilities of being a husband and father. "'I love my son and all, but we both need escapes,” he texted a woman ten minutes before leaving his son under the hot Georgia sun, where temperatures hover in the upper 80s in June.
As the litany of guilty verdicts were read out in court yesterday, Harris seemed detached and emotionless. He will be sentenced on December 5 and could face life without parole. In a message posted to her Facebook page, Harris’ ex-wife Leanna Taylor said, "For those of you who want to know if I am ok. The answer is no. I have not been 'ok' since the moment I was told my son was dead. I have not been 'ok' since the moment my life was put on this path that has led to Ross being found guilty of maliciously murdering our child.”
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