Justin Ross Harris' Ex Says He Was 'Terrible Husband' But 'Loving' Father Who Didn't Intentionally Kill Son

Justin Ross Harris' 22-month-old son Cooper died of hyperthermia after being left in a hot SUV for several hours

Leanna Taylor - News
Photo: John Bazemore/AP

The wife of Justin Ross Harris is speaking out, saying that he was "a loving and proud father" who simultaneously was "a terrible husband."

Harris, now 41, was convicted of murder after authorities said that he intentionally left his 22-month-old son, Cooper, to die in a hot car while he was at work on June 18, 2014. He had taken Cooper to breakfast and then neglected to drop the toddler off at day care, instead driving to his job at Home Depot. 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 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.

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

On Wednesday, the Georgia Supreme Court overturned the conviction, ruling that much of the evidence presented in Harris' 2016 trial "was needlessly cumulative and prejudicial" and should have been excluded from testimony.

The court upheld the sexual crimes charges against Harris, which the defendant did not challenge. Harris was convicted of one count of exploitation of a child and two counts of dissemination of harmful material to a minor, for his exchanges with the teen. He will remain in prison for those convictions.

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

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The day after the conviction was overturned, Harris' ex wife, Leanna Taylor, issued a statement about her former husband.

"Ross was a loving and proud father to Cooper," Taylor said in the statement, which was obtained by CNN. "At the same time Ross was being a terrible husband. These two things can and did exist at the same time."

"While this will not change anything about my day-to-day life, I do hope it shows people what those closest to the case have been saying from the beginning," Taylor continued.

In her statement, Taylor urged authorities to find a way to stop these deaths from happening.

"It's been 8 years since Cooper died and children have continued to die the same way every year," she added. "Wasting precious resources prosecuting the parents that this happens to is not the answer."

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