Justin Ross Harris Won't Face the Death Penalty for Fatally Leaving Son in Hot Car

Justin Ross Harris Won't Face the Death Penalty for Fatally Leaving Son in Hot Car
Justin Ross Harris
Kelly J. Huff/Marietta Daily Journal/AP

09/25/2014 AT 03:30 PM EDT

Prosecutors will not seek the death penalty against Justin Ross Harris, who is accused of killing his 22-month-old son, Cooper, by leaving him in a hot car for several hours in June.

"After reviewing Georgia's death penalty statute and considering other factors, the State will not seek the death penalty in this case at this time," District Attorney Vic Reynolds said in a statement. "I cannot and will not elaborate at this juncture of the case."

Earlier this month, Harris, 34, was indicted by a grand jury on eight felony counts including malice murder, cruelty to children and criminal attempt to commit a felony. The case became international news after police alleged that he had been sexting six women while Cooper lay dying in the vehicle.

Harris's attorney, H. Maddox Kilgore, maintains that the death was unintentional. "It was always an accident," he told reporters. "When the time comes, and we've worked through the state's maze of theories at trial, it's still going to be a terrible, gut-wrenching accident. And all the eccentricities and moral failings of Ross's life isn't going to change that."

Harris's wife, Leanna, who claims to have passed a polygraph, also welcomed the news.

"While we are relieved with his decision, it was calculated," says Leanna Harris's lawyer, Lawrence Zimmerman. "We have said from the first moment that this was an accident."

Zimmerman continued: "As far as my client is concerned, she has known this from the beginning, and she is thrilled with the district attorney's decision because this affirms what we have been saying all along. This was just a tragic accident. When the truth comes out, justice will prevail for Ross."

If Harris is convicted, he faces life in prison.

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