WHAT’S IN A VERDICT: LEAD PROSECUTOR EXPLAINS JUSTIN ROSS HARRIS TRIAL
After almost two and a half years, Justin Ross Harris was found guilty on three counts of murder, among additional charges this week.
But how can he be charged three times for one death?
To find out, WVUA 23’s Yostina Banoub spoke with the Senior Assistant District Attorney for Cobb County Chuck Boring, lead prosecutor in the case.
Harris was accused of leaving his 22-month-old son, Cooper, inside a hot car to die in July 2014.
“In Georgia, there is no degree of murder,” Boring said. “It’s different types of murder, which requires different levels of proof.”
After four days of deliberation, a jury in Glynn County found Harris guilty.
Harris was charged with two counts of felony murder, one in the first degree and cruelty to children in the second degree. The third is a malice murder charge.
“The malice murder charge was one that does not have an underlined felony,” Boring said. “It’s just the intent to take a life without justification or mitigation.”.
But why multiple murder counts?
“Basically two of the murder charges are just different ways of charging the same mental state just different elements,” Boring said. “The third charge was just lesser included defense that was charged in the indictment upon the defendants own story.”
Harris was also charged with sending messages of a sexual nature to several teenage women.
His sentencing is scheduled for Dec. 5. He faces life in prison with or without the possibility of parole.
“Now there will only be one murder charge for which he will be sentenced,” Boring said. “The other ones will be vacated as a matter of law because they would be duplicative of the malice murder charge.”
Boring said that while justice was served, there’s never really a winner in these type of cases. Just tragedy.