Georgia Father Is Free 10 Years After His Son Died in a Hot Car

Justin Ross Harris' murder conviction was overturned in 2022
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jun 18, 2024 3:00 AM CDT
Georgia Father Is Free 10 Years After His Son Died in a Hot Car
FILE - Justin Ross Harris listens during his trial at the Glynn County Courthouse, Oct. 3, 2016, in Brunswick, Ga.   (Stephen B. Morton/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP, Pool, File)

A father from Georgia has been released from prison 10 years after his toddler died in a hot car, a case that made global headlines after prosecutors accused him of murder, the AP reports. Justin Ross Harris was freed on Sunday—Father's Day—from the Macon State Prison, Georgia Department of Corrections records show. He began serving his sentence on Dec. 6, 2016. Harris had moved from Tuscaloosa, Alabama, to the Atlanta area for work in 2012. He told police that on the morning of June 18, 2014, he forgot to drop off his 22-month-old son Cooper at day care. Instead, he drove straight to his job as a web developer for the Home Depot and left the child in his car seat, he told investigators. Cooper died after about seven hours in the back seat on a day when temperatures hit the high 80s.

At trial, prosecutors put forth a theory that Harris was miserable in his marriage and killed his son so he could be free. They presented evidence of his extramarital sexual activities, including exchanging sexually explicit messages and graphic photos with women and girls and meeting some of them for sex. But his 2016 murder and child cruelty convictions were overturned by the Georgia Supreme Court in 2022, and prosecutors said at the time that he would not face another trial over Cooper's death. Harris' convictions on three sex crimes committed against a 16-year-old girl were upheld. He continued serving time on those crimes until Sunday, when he was released from prison.

(More Justin Ross Harris stories.)

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