Justin Ross Harris' parents say he didn't kill 22-month-old grandson 'on purpose' by leaving him inside hot car
Harris, 39, was convicted in 2016 of murdering his 22-month-old son Cooper and is currently serving a life sentence for the same
COBB COUNTY, GEORGIA: The parents of Justin Ross Harris are speaking have said that their son did not mean to kill their grandson by leaving him inside a hot car. His mother Evelyn Harris spoke to CBS-46 and said, "Any of the family who you talk to would say that Justin just didn't do it -- not on purpose."
Harris, 39, was convicted in 2016 of murdering his 22-month-old son Cooper. He is currently serving a life sentence for the same. According to authorities, Harris took Cooper to a Chick-Fil-A for breakfast on June 18 in 2014 and after they ate, did not take 22-month-old Cooper to his day care. Instead, he drove to his workplace for Home Depot and locked the car doors while he worked. On that day the temperature outside had soared to almost 90 degrees and by the time Harris got out of work, Cooper was dead.
Harris was charged with eight felony counts which included malice murder cruelty to children and criminal attempt to commit a felony. He had also pleaded not guilty to all charges made against him. According to prosecutors, Harris had tried to kill his son so he could be free to have sex with as many women as possible. While the trial took place, detectives had made several explosive statements against Harris and had alleged that he had exchanged sexual text messages with six different women on the day his son died.
The authorities also revealed that Harris had visited prostitutes - one of whom had even testified against him during the trial. The defense team had argued that Cooper's death had been a tragic accident and that Harris did not mean to kill his son. A jury had sided with the prosecution and Harris was convicted of all charges and sentenced to life in prison without parole. Harris' parents had spoken to CBS-46 that their son realizes that he may not be released from prison but hope that this situation can serve as a cautionary tale to others. Evelyn said, "He said, 'If one child lives because of me, I'm okay with it'."
We had earlier reported that Harris' attorney insisted that the death was an accident unrelated to the cheating, which was a view that was shared by his then-wife Leanna Taylor, who filed for divorce after learning of his infidelities. "There was evidence in our relationship that would suggest that he would be capable of being unfaithful to me," she said at the trial. "There is no evidence in our relationship that suggests he would harm anyone, much less his own son."
He was eventually convicted of all eight counts, with Superior Court Judge Mary Staley telling Harris he had "intentionally and unnecessarily" inflicted "wanton, severe physical and mental pain and agony" on his son.
"What factually was a horrendous horrific experience for this 22-month old child who had been placed in the trust of his father and in violation and dereliction of duty to that child, if not love of that child, callously walked away and left that child in a hot car in June in Georgia in the summer to swelter and die," she said.
Harris was granted the right to appeal for a new trial in May, nearly four years after the original. His motion for a new trial on December 14, 15, and 16. If the judges rule against the motion for a new trial, Harris may appeal in the Supreme Court.