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Georgia man won't be retried in hot car case, Cobb County DA decides

Bill Rankin, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on

Published in News & Features

ATLANTA — The Cobb County District Attorney’s Office won’t retry Ross Harris for murder in the tragic case in which he left his 22-month-old son, Cooper, to die in his hot SUV.

The decision was approved Thursday by Cobb Superior Court Judge Robert Leonard. The reason given by prosecutors was a ruling last year by the Georgia Supreme Court that overturned Harris’s murder conviction and limited evidence in the state’s case.

Harris’s case attracted international attention. Initially seen as a sad, sympathetic father, he drew scorn upon revelations he was a serial philanderer who sent graphic photos to teenagers.

“Ross has always accepted the moral responsibility for Cooper’s death,” his lawyers, Maddox Kilgore, Carlos Rodriguez and Bryan Lumpkin, said in a statement. “But after all these years of investigation and review, this dismissal of charges confirms that Cooper’s death was unintentional and therefore not a crime.”

The attorneys thanked and others for their work preventing hot car deaths. “Their guidance helped us understand how Cooper’s death tragically fits the pattern of how children are unintentionally left in cars,” the statement said.

The Cobb DA’s office said in a statement that over the past 11 months it conducted a thorough review of the case file.


“Crucial motive evidence that was admitted at the first trial in 2016 is no longer available to the state due to the majority decision of the Supreme Court,” it said. “Therefore, after much thought and deliberation, we have made the difficult decision to not retry Justin Ross Harris on the reversed counts of the indictment. ... Cooper will always be remembered by this office and those who fought for him.”

Lead prosecutor Chuck Boring, who is no longer at the Cobb DA’s office, decried the decision and said DA Flynn Broady never reached out to him or the prosecution team that tried the case.

“This decision, without any notice to those most knowledgeable and involved in the case from practically day one of the investigation, is a disservice,” Boring said. “He simply dismisses the charges with no accountability even though everyone, including the Georgia Supreme Court, has stated that the evidence is there.”

The DA’s decision does not mean Harris’s imminent release from prison. He still stands convicted of exchanging graphic text messages with an underage girl, for which he was sentenced to 12 years. He has been in custody since 2014.


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