Prosecutors will not seek the death penalty against a Georgia man indicted for murder after leaving his 22-month-old son strapped in a hot car for seven hours in June, the local district attorney announced Wednesday.
The case against Justin Ross Harris, 33, has riveted the United States, with authorities saying that he exchanged explicit photos with women online as his son was dying. Harris’ defense attorney has called his son’s death a horrible accident.
“After reviewing Georgia’s death penalty statute and considering other factors, the State will not seek the death penalty in this case at this time,” Cobb County District Attorney Vic Reynolds said in a statement, adding that he would not elaborate on how the decision was reached.
Earlier this month, a Cobb County grand jury indicted Harris on charges that include two counts of felony murder and a count of child cruelty.
Harris was also charged with sexual exploitation, with prosecutors asserting that he asked a girl to send him lewd photos.
Harris told police he forgot to drop off his son, Cooper, at his daycare center on his way to work on June 18 and only discovered the child after he left the office that afternoon.
Harris’ attorney, Maddox Kilgore, has said that his client’s “eccentricities and moral failures” do not make him a murderer.
Kilgore could not immediately be reached for comment.
Lawrence Zimmerman, attorney for Leanne Harris, the defendant’s wife, who has not been charged in the case, hailed the prosecution’s decision in a new conference on Wednesday.
“This affirms what we have been saying all along,” Zimmerman said. “This was just a tragic accident. When the truth comes out, justice will prevail for Ross.”
(Reporting by David Beasley; Editing by Jonathan Kaminsky and Sandra Maler)