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A Georgia father was released from prison 10 years after his toddler died in a hot car, a case that made international headlines after prosecutors charged him with murder.

Justin Ross Harris was released from Macon State Prison on Sunday, Father’s Day, according to Georgia Department of Corrections records. He started serving his sentence on December 6, 2016.

Harris relocated from Tuscaloosa, Alabama, to the Atlanta area for work in 2012. He told police that on June 18, 2014, he failed to drop off his 22-month-old son Cooper at daycare. Instead, he drove directly to his job as a web developer for The Home Depot, leaving the child in his car seat, he told investigators.

Cooper died after sitting for about seven hours in the back seat of a Hyundai Tucson SUV outside his father’s office in suburban Atlanta, where temperatures were in the high 80s. Prosecutors claimed during the trial that Harris was unhappy in his marriage and killed his son to get out. They presented evidence of his extramarital sexual activities, such as sending sexually explicit messages and graphic photos to women and girls and meeting some of them for sex.

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In November 2016, Harris was found guilty of eight counts, including malice murder. A judge sentenced him to life without parole and an additional 32 years in prison for other crimes.

In June 2022, the Georgia Supreme Court voted 6-3 to overturn his murder and child cruelty convictions, citing evidence that was “extremely and unfairly prejudicial.”

Prosecutors stated at the time that he would not face another trial for Cooper’s death. The Cobb County District Attorney’s Office, which prosecuted the case, issued a statement expressing its disagreement with the majority’s decision. However, as a result of that ruling, prosecutors claim they no longer have access to critical evidence about Harris’ motivation.

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Harris’ lawyers have always maintained that he was a loving father and that the boy’s death was a tragic accident.

Though it dismissed the murder conviction, the state Supreme Court upheld Harris’ convictions on three sex crimes committed against a 16-year-old girl that Harris had not appealed. He continued serving time on those crimes until Sunday when he was released from prison.

Harris’ case drew an extraordinary amount of attention, making headlines around the world and sparking debates online and on cable news shows. After determining that pretrial publicity had made it too hard to find a fair jury in Cobb County in suburban Atlanta, the presiding judge agreed to relocate the trial to Brunswick on the Georgia coast.

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