On the fourth day of deliberations, the Georgia jury of six men and six women returned a verdict of guilt on all eight counts that Justin Ross faced. Here is a breakdown of the counts of which he was convicted and some statistics about the trial. He will be sentenced on December 5, 2016.
Count 1–Malice Murder
This is the murder of Cooper with malice aforethought. Since the State opted not to seek the death penalty, the potential sentence is life with or without parole.
Count 2–Felony Murder
Causing the death of Cooper while committing cruelty to children in the first degree is punishable by life with or without parole.
Count 3–Felony Murder
Causing the death of Cooper while committing cruelty to children in the second degree is classified as a second degree murder charge. The sentence is 10 to 30 years.
Count 4–Cruelty to Children, First Degree
This is maliciously causing the death of Cooper by cruel or excessive physical or mental pain. It is punishable by five to 20 years in prison.
Count 5–Cruelty to Children, Second Degree
This is negligently causing the death of Cooper by cruel or excessive physical or mental pain. It is punishable by one to 10 years in prison.
Count 6–Criminal Attempt to Commit a Felony
Harris asked a minor girl to send him a naked picture of her. This is punishable by up to 10 years.
Count 7–Dissemination of Harmful Material to Minors
Harris sent a minor girl a text with a sexually explicit description. This is a misdemeanor.
Count 8–Dissemination of Harmful Material to Minors
Harris sent a photo of his genitals to a minor girl. This is a misdemeanor.
Jurors had more than 1000 pieces of evidence to sift through, introduced during the 20 days of evidence presented by 51 witnesses for the State and 18 for the defense. Jurors were in court for 22 days but a day on either end was devoted exclusively to openings and closings.
On Monday, December 5, 2016, Harris will be sentenced to life in prison on counts 1 and 2—we just don’t know if it will be with or without parole. Also, he faces up to an additional 40 years for the other crimes. I expect Harris, of course, to appeal.
What do you think of the verdict?