BRUNSWICK, Ga – Prosecutors in the Justin Ross Harris murder trial say the jury quickly concluded the Cobb County father was guilty of murdering his 22-month-old son, even though they deliberated for four days.
“In talking to them, they knew right away, unanimously,” said prosecutor Chuck Boring.
Harris, 35, was found guilty on eight counts of murder and cruelty to children on Monday. Cooper Harris died after he was left in a hot car in a suburban Atlanta office park in June 2014.
Boring said all 12 jurors knew they wanted to convict Harris on malice murder, but wanted to be sure of their decision.
“I have to tip my hat to these jurors,” said Boring. “They were honestly just amazing.”
After a change of venue from Marietta to Brunswick, the trial proceeded through more than 20 days of witnesses from the prosecution and defense.
Harris’ defense maintained that Cooper's death was a tragic accident. Prosecutors said that Harris deliberately left Cooper in the car, and told others that he wanted to live a child-free life.
Legal expert John Phillips says the jury was clearly passionate about their decision, and this was an emotional case.
“A jury will react with their hearts, and there were parents on this jury,” Phillips said. “You had a tragic loss of a child. And it wasn't just if the dad was guilty of that. It was the sexting and some of the other stuff. If there had been more charges, they would have convicted him on those as well.”
Superior Court Judge Mary Staley told jurors she would keep them informed about sentencing, set for Dec. 5 in Cobb County.
Harris is facing mandatory life sentences on three of the charges – one count of malice murder and two counts of felony murder – and between one to 10 years in the remaining charges of cruelty to children and dissemination of pornography to minors.
The jury did not want to speak publicly about this verdict, leaving immediately after it was read.