breaking news

Here is how the government shutdown is affecting Georgia

Ross Harris trial: 2 questions arise in jury deliberations


Jury deliberations resumed today in the Justin Ross Harris hot car murder trial, but the jury broke for lunch without posing any questions to the court.

This is Day 4 of deliberations by the six-man, six-woman jury, whose decision could put Harris behind bars for the rest of his life. He is accused of murder for leaving his 22-month-old son, Cooper, in a hot SUV to die in June 2014.

» Read the AJC’s full trial coverage

The jurors last week weighed evidence in the murder case for 2½ days and then broke for a three-day weekend. They reassembled today at the Glynn County courthouse in Brunswick. The jury didn't ask to review any evidence or seek explanations of the law today but may still be chewing on issues that arose last week. Here are two questions they came up with then that seemed to be important to their discussions:

1. What do the videos show?

Early on in deliberations, the jury asked to review three videos from the day Cooper died: Harris’ interview with lead detective Phil Stoddard, his reunion with now ex-wife Leanna Taylor in a police interrogation room, and his return to his SUV at lunchtime, roughly three hours after leaving his son in the Hyundai Tucson.

“The third video, because it was so short, everyone was paying attention to see what it was,” Atlanta criminal defense attorney Esther Panitch said. “And it’s a very difficult video to analyze because it was taken from such a distance away from where Ross was in his car. So it’s interesting to see. It makes sense the jurors wanted to see what happened on that day.”

2. What does “wanton” mean?

Jurors asked the court to define “wanton,” which appears in the definition of criminal negligence — “an act or failure to act which demonstrates a willful, wanton, or reckless disregard for the safety of others who might reasonably be expected to be injured thereby,” according to Georgia law.

That means Harris knew his son could be hurt as a result of his actions, in this case, his serial sexting with online strangers. The judge declined to provide a definition.

You follow trial developments at AJC.com and on Twitter at @AJCBreakdown. AJC reporters Christian Boone (@reporterJCB) and Bill Rankin (@ajccourts) will be in Brunswick for the duration of the trial.

Harris is also the subject of the second season of the AJC’s podcast series “Breakdown,” which will follow the trial’s developments.


Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Local

Police: Man who shot neighbor, ran from officers kills himself
Police: Man who shot neighbor, ran from officers kills himself

A SWAT situation in Gwinnett County ended early Saturday when a man fatally shot himself, police said. The situation began shortly after midnight when police responded to a person-shot call in the 6000 block of Glenbrook Drive, officer Jacob Albright said in a news release. About 7:15 a.m., the man who allegedly shot a neighbor was seen outside his...
College student dies after on-campus shooting at Wake Forest
College student dies after on-campus shooting at Wake Forest

A 21-year-old student from Winston-Salem State University was shot and killed early Saturday after a fight broke out during a party at Wake Forest University, police said. The shooting occurred around 1 a.m., WXII reported. It took place on campus during a Delta Sigma Theta sorority party at The Barn, police said. Najee Ali Baker, 21, was...
Pizza shop owner sues when store confused for one where assault occurred
Pizza shop owner sues when store confused for one where assault occurred

A Pennsylvania pizza shop is being targeted, but its owner says it is a case of mistaken identity. Customers upset about a viral video in which a former manager allegedly assaulted a woman have been calling Original Milano's in Oakland -- but the video was taken at Pizza Milano. Ben Sciulli is the owner of the Original Milano's Pizza. He wants to make...
TV film crew arrested for allegedly trying to bring fake explosive to airport
TV film crew arrested for allegedly trying to bring fake explosive to airport

Television film crew members were arrested at Newark Liberty International Airport on Thursday for allegedly trying to pass a piece of luggage containing “all the makings of an improvised explosive device,” ABC News reported. The film crew members, who claimed to be working the CNBC show “Staten Island Hustle,” were detained...
These big cities didn't make Amazon's HQ cut
These big cities didn't make Amazon's HQ cut

Plenty of big cities aren’t on Amazon’s long short list of 20 places it’s still considering for a second headquarters and 50,000 high-paying jobs. While the Seattle-based giant kept Atlanta in the running, here are some of the notable cities that aren’t: Phoenix San Diego Charlotte Detroit Cincinnati San Francisco...
More Stories