Father Who Left 22-Month-Old Son to Die in Hot Car Sentenced to Life Without Parole

( [email protected] ) Dec 06, 2016 08:10 AM EST
Multiple counts of murder, child abuse and several sexual assault charges against underage girls were also charged against the accused for the hot car death of his son.
NBC News

Justin Ross Harris, 36, will finally be spending the rest of his life behind bars after he was sentenced to life without parole for the death of his 22-month old son who died inside his hot car back in 2014.

The proceedings also unfolded a sinister trail of events that ended in his conviction- evidence provided to the court that ruled out the incident was anything but an accident. The judge said that the hot car death incident was born out of the mind of a man with an "evil nature".

Harris' defense was that it was an accident that he forgot about his son, Cooper, inside his parked car outside his office in Atlanta, Georgia for seven hours. He was supposed to drop off his son into a day care center before going to work. Cooper suffered from hyperthermia and died sitting inside the car parked under the hot sun that went up to as high as 90F.

Judge Mary Staley Clark of the Cobb Country Superior Court convicted Harris on Monday for eight counts  including charges of child cruelty, murder with malice and sex crimes for sending lewd text messages to a teenage girl.

Harris was sentenced to the maximum penalty , which added 32 years imprisonment for what the judge said was a "horrendous, horrific" crime. It was also unthinkable for a father to have "callously walked away and left that child in a hot car to swelter and die."

The prosecution also found evidence that Harris plotted to kill his son. He was found to have been exchanging nude images online with some women, including a teenager, when the incident occurred. Another troubling piece of evidence was that he was researching on sites that were promoting for a child-free lifestyle, which may have been the reason why he planned the hot car death of his son.

During the sentencing, Harris was shackled to the floor and wearing an orange jumpsuit. He was listening emotionless when the sentencing was carried out.

Harris' defense lawyers indicated that they will be filing a motion for a new trial, claiming that a 'lapse in memory" by Harris called the hot car death a tragic accident and not intentional.

The prosecution, however, refused to be cowed by the alibi and provided evidence that Harris was able to see his son from the rear of his Hyundai Tucson SUV, which may have been unlikely that he forgot about Cooper being inside the car.

State witnesses also testified that Harris was living a double life. While his family believes that he was a "loving and caring" father, there were also proof that he paid for sex, had online raunchy interaction with several women and two underage girls. He was also found to have extramarital sex affairs in public places.


Tags : child abuse, sexual assault, Life Sentence, death