UPDATE: Ross Harris sentence: Life plus 32 years without parole - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

UPDATE: Ross Harris sentence: Life plus 32 years without parole

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UPDATE: Justin Ross Harris was sentenced to life in prison without a possibility of parole plus 32 years on Monday for the hot car death of his 22-month-old son Cooper. 

Judge Mary Staley followed the recommendation of assistant district attorney Chuck Boring and sentenced Harris to the maximum possible sentence for the eight guilty counts in court on Monday afternoon.

Ross Harris was found guilty of malice murder and felony murder last month in a high-profile trial that lasted for weeks. Harris was found guilty on all eight charges brought against him by Cobb County prosecutors related to the death of his 22-month-old son, Cooper.

Cooper Harris was found in the back of his father's SUV on a hot, June 2014 afternoon. Ross Harris had left little Cooper in the car after taking him to breakfast, then driving to his office, a short distance away, in a Vinings office park.

Harris did not discover Cooper's lifeless body until late in the afternoon. 

In addition to the murder and child cruelty charges, Harris was convicted on multiple charges of dissemination of harmful materials to minors relating to his sexting with underage girls. 

Prosecutors maintained that Harris was so preoccupied with conducting illicit online and in-person affairs with women of varying ages that he completely ignored his son, leaving him in the car. Among the women that Harris exchanged texts and emails with were teens as young as 15 years old.

When the Harris trial initially sought out a jury, an impartial jury could not be empaneled in Cobb County, necessitating a change in venue to Glynn County in southeast Georgia.

"This defendant was convicted of malice murder in the murder of his son who died a torturous death and I think he’ll get the maximum,” said 11Alive's Vinnie Politan.

Politan said he felt Monday's hearing would be short, as the defense did not plan to present any evidence.

“Usually, you’d expect his family to come in and say, 'Ross Harris is an OK guy. He’s done all these great things in his life we’re going to miss him,' ” Politan said, who did not expect Harris himself to speak. “He’s holding onto the fact that maybe I’ll win an appeal so I don’t want to say anything that could be used against me down the road at any point.”

During the hearing, Judge Staley addressed Harris directly, explaining to him that he has the right to present witnesses, and the opportunity to help demonstrate a solid character that may lead to a more lenient sentence for him going forward. 

"Do you understand this? Did your counsel explain this to you?"

"Yes, ma'am," Harris replied, quietly.

At the sentencing hearing, each side can present either aggravating or mitigating evidence. Mitigating evidence would lead to a less harsh sentence, but the defense has stated it would offer no evidence at the hearing. The prosecution has estimated it will need between 15 to 20 minutes for evidence at the sentencing hearing.

The defense will have 30 days after sentencing to appeal the decision. Harris' attorney during the trial, Maddox Kilgore, has indicated that he will appeal the decision.


PREVIOUS STORY: The man who was found guilty of leaving his infant son in a hot car to die is set to be sentenced on Monday.

Justin Ross Harris was found guilty of malice murder and felony murder last month in one of the nation’s highest-profile trials in recent memory. Harris was found guilty on all eight charges brought against him by Cobb County prosecutors related to the death of his 22-month-old son, Cooper.

Judge Mary Staley is set to sentence Harris at 1:30 pm.

Cooper Harris was found in the back of his father's SUV on a hot, June 2014 afternoon.

Harris faces the prospect of spending the rest of his life in jail. The murder counts each carry a mandatory sentence of life in prison, while the other charges carry various sentences.

In total, Harris faces a maximum of life in prison without parole plus 42 years. Prosecutors did not seek the death penalty in the case.

At the sentencing hearing, each side can present either aggravating or mitigating evidence. Mitigating evidence would lead to a less harsh sentence, but the defense has stated it would offer no evidence at the hearing. The prosecution has estimated it will need between 15 to 20 minutes for evidence at the sentencing hearing.

The defense will have 30 days after sentencing to appeal the decision. Harris' attorney during the trial, Maddox Kilgore, has indicated that he will appeal the decision.

Read more at WXIA's website.

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