A Georgia man whose toddler son died after being left for hours in a hot car was found guilty of murder on Monday.
Justin Ross Harris was convicted on all charges after his 22-month-old son Cooper died in June 2014 in a parking lot outside Harris’ workplace in metro Atlanta.
Harris, who moved to Georgia from Alabama in 2012, told police he forgot to take the boy to daycare.
Prosecutors say the 35-year-old killed his son to escape his family responsibilities at a time when the father was pursuing sexual affairs outside his marriage.
The trial included sexts between Harris and a teenage girl, and lead prosecutor Chuck Boring told jurors that Harris intentionally left the boy in the SUV to “suffer an unimaginable, horrible death.”
Other evidence exposed at trial showed that Harris had watched a video about hot car deaths in the days before the killing and that minutes before he locked the toddler in his car, he said, “I love my son and all, but we both need escapes.”
The defendant’s ex-wife Leanna Taylor testified that her former husband did not kill their child on purpose, though the jury found him guilty of both intentional malice murder and felony murder because Cooper died while Harris was committing cruelty to children.
Harris, whose defense team has called the death a tragic accident, faces life in prison after his convictions, which also include two counts of cruelty to children and sexual exploitation of children.
The prosecution and defense made their closing arguments last Monday following more than a month of testimony in Brunswick, a city 275 miles from Atlanta where the trial was moved because of pretrial publicity.
Monday’s verdict came on the jury’s fourth day of deliberations.
With News Wire Services