Justin Ross Harris Released from State Prison 10 Years After Death of Toddler Son in Hot Car

Justin Ross Harris’ murder conviction was overturned in 2022, but he remained in prison after being found guilty of sex crimes against a child

Cooper Harris (left) and Justin Ross Harris.
Cooper Harris (left) and Justin Ross Harris.

A Georgia father who had his murder conviction for the hot car death of his toddler son overturned was released from state prison a decade after the deadly incident, though he could spend the remaining two years of his sentence in county jail.

On Sunday, June 16, Justin Ross Harris was freed from Macon State Prison, according to online records from the Georgia Department of Corrections. He had been serving a 10 year sentence for sex crimes against a child, the records state. According to the Associated Press, his sentence began in December 2016.

Following his release, Harris was transferred to the Cobb County Jail, where he could serve the last two years of his sentence, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports.

On June 18, 2014, Harris' 22-month-old son Cooper died of hyperthermia after spending seven hours buckled in his rear-facing car seat in the back of an SUV parked outside of his father's place of work at a Home Depot corporate office in Marietta, Ga., PEOPLE previously reported.

He had taken Cooper to breakfast that morning and then neglected to drop the toddler off at daycare, instead driving to his job. Hours later, Harris discovered his son's lifeless body in the back of his SUV.

During the trial, prosecutors argued that Harris killed his son intentionally so he could be free to have sex with as many women as possible. They also claimed he exchanged sexual text messages with six different people — including a 16-year-old girl — on the day his son died.

Related: Cops: Justin Ross Harris 'Sexted' Six Women While His Son, 22 Months, Died in Hot Car

<p>Stephen B. Morton/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP</p> Justin Ross Harris

Stephen B. Morton/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP

Justin Ross Harris

Harris’ defense team contended that Cooper's death was a tragic accident, and that Harris did not intend to kill his young son.

In November 2016, Harris was convicted of his son’s murder and subsequently sentenced to life in prison without possibility of parole plus 32 years, 11 Alive reports.

However, that conviction was overturned in June 2022 following a 6-3 ruling by the Georgia Supreme Court, which found that a majority of the evidence presented in 2016 "was needlessly cumulative and prejudicial" and should have been excluded from trial, according to court documents previously reviewed by PEOPLE.

Related: Ga. Dad Who 'Sexted' with Women as Young Son Died in Hot Car Gets Murder Conviction Overturned

“Inadmissible evidence can lead juries to wrongfully convict an innocent person,” Harris’ defense attorney Carlos J. Rodriguez said in a statement obtained by NBC News at the time. “Today's decision mirrors the very same points that we made to the trial judge, and we were right. I only wish the trial court had listened."

Want to keep up with the latest crime coverage? Sign up for PEOPLE's free True Crime newsletter for breaking crime news, ongoing trial coverage and details of intriguing unsolved cases.

Still, the court upheld the sexual crimes charges against Harris, which he did not challenge. During the murder trial, he was also found guilty of one count of exploitation of a child and two counts of dissemination of harmful material to a minor, for his involvement with a girl who was 16 years old at the time.

Related: Georgia Dad Accused in Hot Car Death Indicted on Charges of Sexually Exploiting Minors

Cobb County prosecutors announced in 2023 that Harris would not be retried in the murder case.

“Crucial motive evidence that was admitted at the first trial in 2016 is no longer available to the state due to the majority decision of the Supreme Court,” the Cobb County District Attorney’s Office said in a statement at the time, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. 

“Therefore, after much thought and deliberation, we have made the difficult decision to not retry Justin Ross Harris on the reversed counts of the indictment” the statement continued. “Cooper will always be remembered by this office and those who fought for him.”

Harris’ ex-wife and mother to their son, Leanna Taylor, spoke out after his murder conviction, saying that he was "a loving and proud father" who simultaneously was "a terrible husband,” according to CNN

For more People news, make sure to sign up for our newsletter!

Read the original article on People.