Justin Ross Harris’ ex-wife Leanna Taylor calls him ‘a loving father and a proud father’

In 2016, Taylor testified in the trial of Justin Ross Harris, the Georgia father who was sentenced to life in prison without parole for her son’s death in a hot car in 2014. She described Harris as a “very dedicated” parent who never expressed anger or malice toward Cooper.

“That he was wanted, that he was loved, and that he is missed every day,” she said in a statement released by her attorney, Lawrence Zimmerman.

The Georgia Supreme Court ruled by a vote of 6 to 3 that prosecutors presented evidence of Harris’ extramarital sexual relations – which the state cited as motivation for its decision to kill his son – unfairly adversely affected the jury.

“Because the properly admitted evidence that the applicant maliciously and willfully caused Cooper to die was far from overwhelming,” the court’s opinion said, “we cannot say that it is highly probable that the falsely admitted sexual Evidence did not contribute to the jury’s guilty verdict. “

Taylor has insisted that Harris had no intention of killing her only child since that hot summer day in June 2014 when he strapped Cooper into his rear-facing car seat in the back of his SUV and left him there for seven hours. That’s what she told the police that day – and what she later testified at Harris’ trial.

She still thinks so.

“While this will not change anything about my day-to-day life, I hope it shows people what those closest to the case have been saying from the start,” Taylor said in the statement.

β€œRoss was a loving and proud father to Cooper. At the same time, Ross was a terrible husband. These two things can and have existed at the same time.”

In addition to three counts of murder, Harris was convicted of two counts of child cruelty for Cooper’s death and three counts relating to his electronic exchange of indecent material with a minor.

The Georgia Supreme Court has only overturned Harris’ convictions for the crimes against his son. Harris did not challenge the others in his appeal, the ruling said, and they remain in place.

Harris was sentenced to a total of 12 years in prison on three counts: 10 years for attempted sexual exploitation of a child and one year each for twice distributing harmful material to a minor, the court ruled.

The Cobb County District Attorney’s Office plans to file a motion for the court to review the verdict, the office said in a statement, declining to comment further.

CNN has reached out to Harris’ attorneys for comment.

In June 2014, Harris strapped Cooper into his car seat and drove from his family’s home to a nearby Chick-fil-A.

Georgia Supreme Court overturns Justin Ross Harris' murder conviction in son's car death

Instead of taking his son to daycare afterwards, he went to work, parked and walked in, leaving Cooper strapped in the car for the next seven hours.

He stopped by the SUV in the early afternoon and left some lightbulbs he had bought on the passenger seat. But it wasn’t until that afternoon, while driving to a nearby movie theater, that Harris said he noticed his son was still in the car. He pulled into a mall parking lot and pulled the child’s body out of the SUV.

While witnesses at the scene said Harris was distraught, Cobb County prosecutors argued in court that he intentionally left Cooper locked in his car that day so he could be free from family responsibilities.

The state described Harris as living a “double life.” In one, Cooper was a loving father and husband to his wife, family and friends. But he was also involved in online sexual communications with several women β€” including two underage girls β€” and also engaged in extramarital sexual encounters in public.

Defense attorneys countered that Cooper’s death was a tragic accident caused by his father’s memory lapse.

In her statement, Taylor said that Cobb County prosecutors’ “overstatement” and “their abuse of power” ultimately led to the High Court’s decision.

“It’s been 8 years since Cooper died and kids die the same way every year,” she added. “Wasting precious resources going after the parents this happens to is not the answer.”

Taylor urged lawmakers to “put the money into what could actually save lives” with laws mandating devices that can “stop these tragedies.”

CNN’s Dakin Andone contributed to this report.

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