BRUNSWICK, Ga. - A Glynn County jury found Ross Harris guilty of murder in the 2014 death of his son, Cooper, who was left inside a hot car in Cobb County.
Sentencing has been scheduled for 1:30 p.m. December 5 in Cobb County. Harris faces a maximum of life in prison without parole plus 42 years.
"We find the defendant guilty. As to count two, we find the defendant guilty. Count 3, we find the defendant guilty. As to count four, we find the defendant guilty," was the verdict as it was read in open court.
Jurors reached their verdict Monday afternoon, finding Harris guilty on all eight counts he faced, including malice murder, felony murder, cruelty to children, criminal attempt to commit a felony and dissemination of harmful material to minors.
"Literally from the very beginning, I knew Mr. Harris was involved in it from the very first day. The Cobb P.D., when they reached out to us, said something is not right about this case. There's something wrong about this case. And we didn't go into the case hoping that it would be a malice murder, didn't go into the case hoping that it would be anything but some god awful tragic accident," Cobb County District Attorney Vic Reynolds said addressing a press conference shortly after the verdict. "But as Chuck said, brick, by brick, by brick started laying in front of us, the foundation was built to proceed with malice murder."
“Today is not a victory, nor is it a day we celebrate, said Cobb County District Attorney Vic Reynolds. "In fact, today is a monumentally sad day. This has been a 29-month journey culminating in this guilty verdict. I want to thank the community of Glynn County for their hospitality and the Cobb Police Department for their hard work. And I certainly want to thank all the members of DA’s Office who worked on this case. It was a true team effort, and I believe justice was served today on behalf of young Cooper Harris.”
“When an innocent person is convicted, there's been... there's been some breakdowns in the system. And that's what happened here,” an emotional lead defense attorney Maddox Kilgore told reporters shortly after the verdict.
A visibly upset Kilgore said the jury got the verdict wrong and that the case is going to be appealed. Kilgore started off the press conference by saying he believes our country has the greatest justice system in the world, but that sometimes there are break downs in that system. He believes the outcome of this trial represents one of those breakdowns.
Kilgore went on to say that Harris' defense team continues to believe their client is innocent.
“From the moment we met Ross Harris, we’ve never once, ever once wavered in our absolute belief that he’s not guilty of what he’s just been convicted of. Each time I take a new person over to the jail, a new lawyer, an investigator, we walk out of the jail and inevitably, they turn their head to me and say, ‘My god, he’s really not guilty!’” Kilgore said.
Kilgore said he plans to very quickly file motions on behalf of his client, including one asking for a mistrial in this case and the other an appeal.
All of the jurors left the courthouse Monday afternoon without speaking to the media.
During the trial, the state called 52 witnesses and introduced more than 900 pieces of evidence, including the Hyundai Tucson.
Justin Ross Harris, 35, had been on trial since October 3 in the death of his son, Cooper.
The six men and six women who sat on the jury were given more than a thousand pieces of evidence to examine before coming to a decision.
Monday morning, jurors did not ask any questions or want to see any evidence. They returned to deliberations after a three day weekend due to Veterans Day.
On Thursday, the jury asked for another look at some surveillance video, which shows Harris going back to his SUV during his lunch break on the day Cooper Harris died. Harris had left Cooper in the back seat earlier in the day after arriving at work. He told police he forgot to drop off Cooper at daycare.
The state argued that Harris intentionally left his son to die in the sweltering vehicle because he was living a double life that included affairs with prostitutes, sexting activities with young woman and an unhappy marriage, and no longer wanted the responsibilities of being a father. The defense said the child's death was an accident.
Last week, jurors also requested to view the video of Harris and then-wife Leanna Harris moments after she learned their son died.
The jury heard testimony from seventy witnesses since the trial began more than a month ago.
The trial was moved to Glynn County after the judge determined that an impartial jury could not be seated in Cobb County, where Cooper Harris died.
It was a trial that had many talking, including people in Cobb County.
“Makes me happy to know that he won’t be out and about with the rest of us and the rest of society,” said Steven Burrow.
Some folks said they were surprised Harris was found guilty on all eight counts, while others said he got what he deserved.
“There is not a moment that goes by when I am not like where is she, what is she doing, what is going on with her,” said mother, Denise Kluse. “For someone to say that was an accident, I just couldn’t believe it.”