Dad Jailed After Sexting While Son Died In Hot Car
Justin Ross Harris has been sentenced to life in prison for the murder of his 22-month-old son Cooper.
The Atlanta father left his son to die in a hot car for seven hours while he went to work at The Home Depot corporate headquarters in June 2014.
The 36-year-old was also texting six women sexual messages and photos, including one minor, while his son was left in his SUV.
The jury convicted Harris on eight counts, ensuring a maximum life sentence, plus 42 years.
While Harris said that it was a tragic accident, the prosecution argued that Harris locked his son in his SUV because he wanted to be freed from his responsibilities to his family.
One text message to a woman read,
I love my son and all, but we both need escapes.
The prosecution said that Harris could see his son in his rear-facing car seat, making it impossible for him to have "forgotten" his son was in the car after he drove from their home in Marietta, Georgia to a Chick-fil-A for breakfast and then his place of employment.
He was meant to drop Cooper off at daycare before going to work.
After 4 pm, Harris drove to a movie theater, where he pulled Cooper's body from the SUV and acted distraught, according to witnesses.
While Harris appeared to be a good father and husband, he led a "double life," according to prosecutors.
He spoke to a number of women online sexually (two of which were underaged), had extramarital sex in public places and paid for a prostitute.
Prosecutor Chuck Boring said Harris was messaging over 30 people. He said,
Woman that he had met before, women that he had professed love for, that he had met online, and exchanged comments about being unhappy in his marriage. On that day — while his child was cooking to death — he was messaging a girl he met when she was 16, still trying to get pictures of her vaginal area from her.
It is believed that Harris researched hot car deaths and searched "how to survive in prison" online before he left his son in his vehicle.
Leanna Taylor, Harris' ex-wife and mother to Cooper, said that Harris was a "very involved" parent and he loved their son. Through tears she said,
Cooper was the sweetest little boy. He had so much life in him. He was everything to me.