There is white smoke coming from Cobb County.

No, they haven’t named another pope.

After weeks of jury selection in the Ross Harris “hot car death trial,” which got a lot more attention than some would have liked, causing the defense to ask for a change of venue, which they got.

Pack your bags. The Ross Harris circus is moving south to Glynn County (Brunswick). A trial that is already filled with more intrigue than a J.B. Fletcher mystery is moving 327 miles away from where the alledged crime took place.

During jury selection (voir dire), some jurors that were asked to fill out questionares to assist both the state and defense. Some of the commnents that were penned were less than favorable toward the defendant. Included were comments such as “I hate to use vulgarity but one juror used the words ‘rot in hell.’ Another used the word ‘pervert.’” So much for a fair trial in Marietta. With that, the process was started by Cobb County court officials to move the high-profile trial to another location. Judge Mary Staley granted a change-of-venue motion because so many potential jurors had already formed an opinion on whether Ross Harris had murdered his son, Cooper.

Harris is accused of intentionally leaving his 2-year-old son in a hot car to die for more than seven hours in June 2014 while he was at work for Home Depot. Harris’ legal team asked for the change of venue after lawyers had grilled some 90 jurors. Around half had opinions so strong about Harris’ guilt they were not suitable for the jury and the intensity of those opinions seemed to surprise even the judge.

Cobb County Court Adminstrator Tom Charron told WSB-TV and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, “I know the judge wants this case to be scheduled and tried before the end of the year.”

“Experience has shown us when you have a remote location that jurors interest in the case is not that compelling as it is when it is in their own backyard,” defense attorney Esther Panitch said.

Jury selection may only take a few weeks in Brunswick because the residents in Glynn County, south of Savannah, aren’t as vested in the case as those in Cobb County. “You have jurors who are a lot more aware than you do when it comes from somewhere else and experience has shown us that when you have a remote location that jurors interest in the case is not that compelling as it is when it is in their own backyard,” Charron said.

In case you’re wondering, the Harris case is not the first in recent history to be moved from Cobb County.

Stacey Humphreys, now on death row for killing two real estate agents, was tried in Brunswick. Lynn Turner, who poisoned her police officer husband, was found guilty in Perry, Georgia. Turner later committed suicide in her prison cell taking pills that she had stashed away.

While moving a trial of this nature from where the crime took place to another jurisdiction is not easy and can be somewhat miserable, former Cobb County District Attorney Pat Head says that the state has an advantage.

Head told WSB, “In those cases where we went to Brunswick, the DA there provided us with some space. We had copy machines available to us if we needed something like an investigator to look at something he’d provide us with that.”

The tentative date for jury selection would be around September 12th and the trial could take place soon after that. Harris is looking at life in prison for the death of his 2-year old son. He faces one charge of malice murder, two counts of felony murder, first-degree cruelty to children, second-degree cruelty to children, criminla attempt to commit a Felony (sexual explotation) and two counts of dissemination of harmful material to minors (he alledgedly posted pornographic photos of himself to a minor).

So the Ross Harris trial (or circus) moves to south Georgia and will take place about a week after Labor Day and the start of the high school football season. Let’s hope that this jury plays a little nicer.

Advertisements