Murder Conviction Overturned in Hot Car Death Case

Murder Conviction Overturned in Hot Car Death Case

Aisha: So, a lot of people are wondering right now when you hear this information because it was a huge story. You say, “Well, what’s next? And could now he be released from prison with the most serious part of his conviction overturned?” Let’s bring in now 11Alive, legal analyst, Page Pate. Page, what can you tell us about what could come next in a case like this?

Page: Well, Aisha, I think the most important thing to know is Justin Ross Harris is not leaving prison anytime soon. The conviction on the sex crime charges, he was sentenced to 12 years for those charges, he’s still going to have to serve those regardless of what happens to the murder charges. But it is now up to the District Attorney in Cobb County, whether to retry him on the murder charges relating to the death of his son, Cooper. That decision will be made probably within the next few months and then he may face another trial on the murder charges while he’s still serving his prison time on the sex crime charges.

Aisha: So, let’s dig a little bit deeper now into how the high court came to this decision around that information that the jury was able to hear during that trial.

Page: Well, the big problem is they took two cases and brought them together in one trial, the charges involving the death of Cooper obviously, those were the murder charges, cruelty to children charges. And then they had these unrelated charges relating to Harris’s communication, mostly text messages, to an underage female, that were very sexual in nature. They brought those two charges together in one trial.

And the Supreme Court said, “Wait a minute, all of that evidence relating to his texting these underage girls should not have been considered by the jury when they’re deciding the murder case. And it was unfairly prejudicial.” It made Harris look like a bad guy. Obviously, he was, the jury convicted him on those sex crime charges. But they should not have had that evidence bleed over into the murder case. Only the text and messages he was sending on the day Cooper died should have been relevant and should have been admitted at trial. That’s what the state Supreme Court said.

Aisha: And I think that’s important to point out here that this is so separate because we have a couple of parents who have already been arrested for leaving kids in hot cars this year. We’ve had hot car-related deaths already in the metro of this year. So, you can’t look at this case as setting precedent for any of those.

Page: No. I mean, to an extent you can. The Supreme Court did find that there was sufficient evidence of the murder charges so that’s why they can retry him again. There was sufficient evidence if you take away all of the information about the underage female, the sex crimes. So, yes, this is still the type of case that police should pursue, the prosecutors should proceed on. And that’s why I think in this case, the Cobb County DA will go back and retry him on those murder charges.

Aisha: All right. So, this is definitely not over in that aspect and we will continue following this. And we thank you for joining us, Mr. Page Pate, giving us that in-depth perspective. Thank you.

Page: Thank you.



Fred: All right, tomorrow in Atlanta the Fulton County district attorney is expected to begin the selection process for a special grand jury to decide if former President Donald Trump should be charged for trying to pressure Georgia officials into overturning Joe Biden’s election win in that state in 2020. Prosecutors are looking into a January 2021 phone call in which Trump pushed Georgia Secretary of State, Brad Raffensperger to “Find the votes needed for him to win that state.”

Page Pate is a constitutional law and criminal defense attorney. And he’s with us now. Page, good to see you. So, given what you know, do you think it’s possible a special grand jury could recommend an indictment for former President Trump?

Page: I do, Fred. The special grand jury, of course, doesn’t have the power to indict Trump or anyone else on its own, but what they do have the power to do is subpoena witnesses for testimony, subpoena documents, review all of that evidence, and then make a recommendation as to whether or not another grand jury should actually indict the president and perhaps other people for this particular attempt at election interference.

Now, there are a number of different crimes that could apply here, misdemeanors, felonies, it will be up to this grand jury to look at the evidence and then make a recommendation as to what, if any, crime should be pursued.

Fred: And included in that evidence has to be this infamous call, right, former President Trump called Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger in January 2021. Here’s a portion of that call.

President Trump: So, look. All I wanna do is this. I just wanna find 11,780 votes, which is one more that we have because we won the state.

Fred: So what does that sound like to you? What will that sound to the potential grand jurors?

Page: Well, it sounds like the former president is attempting to interfere with the election results. But here’s what’s critical. We do not, at this point, have the secretary of state’s testimony about how that call affected him. If the district attorney is going to pursue Trump for interfering with election results by soliciting the secretary of state to not do his job, well then, we need to hear from the secretary of state. And that’s why we have this special grand jury. The secretary of state is not gonna voluntarily come forward and cooperate with the district attorney. So, she had to empanel this special grand jury. So, how that call affected him, I think is critical to the analysis of this case.

Fred: Well, will it be submissible? All of the interviews that Raffensperger did, where he did talk about his experience in that call, and he may have intimated if not said directly, what his feelings were. Is that admissible?

Page: It’s admissible if there was a prosecution against Raffensperger, but to actually be admissible in a trial against Trump, you’ve gottta have the testimony of the secretary of state. That’s why it’s so important to find out how he took that call and what if anything he did in response to that call.

Fred: Interesting. All right, so this is a county grand jury hearing, is the bar for an indictment any different in this type of hearing as compared to a federal court?

Page: No, the bar is the same. Is there probable cause that a crime has been committed? The difference here, again, we’re dealing with a special grand jury under state law. They don’t have to finish their work in a month or two months. They can take much longer than that. So, the analysis is going to be the same, but this process may take even longer.

Fred: Interesting. All right, Fulton County, DA, Fani Willis, said in an April interview with “The Atlanta Journal-Constitution” that she will wait until after the state’s May 24th primaries to issue subpoenas to public officials. So, maybe that’s an answer to the Raffensperger. So, do you see that, among those subpoenas, it could include Georgia Republican Governor Brian Kemp?

Page: Yes.

Fred: And, of course, the secretary of state?

Page: Yes, absolutely. But again, I think she’s smart to wait until after the primary, because then, potentially, they’ll either be out of office, in which case or at least on the way out of office, they may not be as reticent to testify about what Trump did to them and how that affected them. Or, you know, she doesn’t want their testimony to be with one eye towards the election. So, I think waiting still the primary is over is certainly a smart move.

Fred: Will you also see a potential subpoena for the former president?

Page: It’s possible, but I don’t think that’s going to happen. Normally, if you’re the target of a grand jury, you’re not gonna get a summons to appear in front of the grand jury. The investigations about you calling you to actually testify would be very unusual. What I do expect to see is some of the people, recipients of these subpoenas, challenging them in court. And there has been a Fulton superior court judge appointed to handle those challenges. And I think he’s gonna have a lot of work to do here.

Fred: All right, Page Pate, good to see you. Thanks so much.

Page: Good to see you.

Fred: All right…



Fred: Florida’s feud with Disney entered a new phase on Friday, Governor Ron DeSantis signing a new law that will dismantle the self-governing status the Disney World resort has enjoyed for the last 55 years. And it comes after Disney criticized a Florida law aimed at preventing schools from teaching young children about sexual orientation or gender identity, dubbed by opponents as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill.

Well, back with us again, constitutional law attorney Page Pate. Even though I said goodbye to you, I didn’t really mean it. It was a very short goodbye. Hello again. All right so…

Page: Hello. I didn’t wanna leave, [inaudible 00.00.36].

Fred: All right. Well, this is a really important topic, you know. Because from the outside looking in, I mean, the State Government of Florida is punishing Disney for taking a stance, verbalizing itself against this new law. So, would that ultimately be a violation of their First Amendment to speak as they wanted?

Page: I think so, Fred. I mean, we have to start with the proposition that a company, just like a person, has the right to freedom of speech. The First Amendment protects their ability to make statements about things they believe in, things they’re against. They absolutely have that protection. The only question here is, was this particular action to strip away their authority in the Middle Florida Orlando area, take away their ability to govern themselves, was that in retaliation for them speaking out about this “Don’t Say Gay” bill?

Fred: Well, does it seem like it is retaliation?

Page: Yes, absolutely. I mean, you look at the statements that the Governor has made, you look at some of the social media messages members of the state legislature have put out there, I think it is clear not just to punish Disney, but to send a message to other companies, not to take the same sort of position. So, I don’t think that’s a good argument. But what we have seen already is some members of the legislature saying, “Well, now wait a minute. It wasn’t just Disney. There were other tax districts involved. And maybe Disney should not have had this privilege to begin with.” But that doesn’t matter under the constitutional analysis. They had it, now they don’t. And it’s because of what they said.

Fred: Yeah, but it’s interesting because now it’s being analyzed in lots of different ways. I mean, it may be a privilege, you know, one point of view, but then we just spoke with, you know, the tax commissioner who says ultimately Disney may be saving. They may be saving $160 million, you know, in taxes that they would have paid with that kind of special privilege. So, are they really being punished because now Florida residents are gonna have to pay that cost? So, if Disney wants to push forward on this and challenge the state legislature, challenge this law, what kind of recourse does it have to potentially strike down the law?

Page: Well, Fred, they’d need to go to court. They would file a lawsuit. They would allege a violation of their constitutional rights by the State of Florida. And they would say, “They acted in retaliation by taking away this privilege we had. Whether we should have had it to begin with or not is not the issue for the constitutional analysis. We had it, they took it away.” So, that would go to a federal judge in Florida. But you’re right. They may not wanna do that. I mean, it looks like they’re gonna be able to unload a bunch of debt on the taxpayers of Florida. So, there may be political or business reasons not to even challenge the decision. We’ll see.

Fred: Oh boy. So, unlike most of, you know, Florida’s new laws that are set to take effect, you know, July 1st, this law against Disney’s Reedy Creek Improvement District doesn’t begin until 2023. So, there is time. And in that time, for the next year, what potentially could happen?

Page: Well, Disney, first of all, has to decide what they wanna do. And I think so far they’ve not made a public statement about what their intentions are, whether they’re gonna sue to try to undo this action. They’re gonna think about it. They’ve got lawyers. They have very good lawyers. They’re gonna decide if this is something they wanna do, not just from a legal standpoint, because I do believe they have a legal right to do it, but do they wanna do this as a business decision? And you’re right, they have time to think about it. It’s not an emergency. They don’t have to act next week or even next month.

Fred: All right. Page Pate, I’ll just say so long, see you later, instead of goodbye.

Page: Hope to see you soon.

Fred: Might have you come back really, really soon. Thank you.

Page: Look forward.

Fred: All right.

Lawsuit Alleges Delta 8 is Legal in Georgia

Lawsuit Alleges Delta 8 is Legal in Georgia

Rick: First at 6 and only on CBS46, Georgia vape shops raided. Exclusive video showing officers storming a cannabis distribution center in Gwinnett County. Prosecutors arguing some companies are selling dangerous THC products.

Shon: But a new lawsuit claims the products are legal. Now businesses involved in that lawsuit are hoping to clear up the confusion. We checked and Georgia law allows for hemp-related products to be legal, as they have a Delta-9-THC concentration of no more than 0.3%. But there is a gray area surrounding other Delta products.

Rick: CBS46’s Jamie Kennedy live in Gwinnett County with the story, Jamie.

Jamie: Yeah. Good evening, Rick. So, many Gwinnett stores like this one here that sell Delta-THC products, that’s Delta-8 products, they’re worried that their inventory is in jeopardy from raids from police and why a lawsuit has been filed, and also an injunction to stop any further action.

This is exclusive video obtained of Gwinnett officers raiding a vaping distribution center looking for Delta-8-THC products, which up until recently many in the state thought was a legal practice.

Shakinah: From what I have seen and known in the past that it was legal, at least federally, and that a certain level of THC was legal.

Jamie: The products give users a very similar high to the one obtained by taking marijuana. Under the Georgia Hemp Farming Act passed in 2019, it says, “Products derived from hemp carrying no more than 0.3% Delta-9-THC can be sold legally.” It doesn’t mention Delta-8 products, so many have thought them to be legal. The Gwinnett County DA says it is illegal under the Hemp Act and say some Delta-8 products have caused a number of children to have psychotic episodes.

Brandon: The issue is that Delta-8 and Delta-10 are not always derivatives of hemp products. And even if they are derivatives of hemp product, the legislature was very specific that hemp is defined as something that contains Delta-9-THC in the amount of 0.3% or less.

Jamie: The issue of whether it is legal or not sparking a lawsuit against the Gwinnett DA by retail sellers.

Tom: I don’t believe it is gray. The Hemp Bill basically legalized all cannabinoids, all extracts, unless we’re talking about Delta-9-THC.

Jamie: Those in the business are hoping the lawsuit will bring clarity as the Delta-8 products make up well over half their profits.

Shakinah: So far, it’s hurt our bottom line, and we’re trying to adjust, but most of our sales were coming from the Delta-8 products.

Jamie: So when the distribution center here was raided, around $2 million worth of stock was taken from them. They say they always have run as a legitimate business, still are running as a legitimate business. The Gwinnett County DA tells me that they are constantly working with business owners on this legislation. Live in Norcross, Jamie Kennedy, CBS46 News.

Woman: Breaking at 6, raves…


Sentencing Hearing in Arbery Case


Wolf: Let’s discuss what’s going on with Criminal Defense Attorney Page Pate. He’s also in Brunswick, Georgia this morning for us. Page, thanks very much for joining us. Tell us what you expect from today’s sentencing. Will these men spend the rest of their lives in prison?

Page: Well, Wolf, in Georgia, it is really up to the judge to decide if someone who has been convicted of either malice murder or felony murder receives a life sentence with the possibility of parole or a life sentence without the possibility of parole. I think there is a very good chance that the judge sentences Travis McMichael because he was the man who actually shot Ahmaud Arbery, to life without the possibility of parole. But I expect we may see the other two defendants get a life sentence with the possibility of parole. But it is important to note that, that’s just a possibility. The judge does not give them parole, does not guarantee that they will get parole. That will ultimately be up to a parole board decades down the road.

Wolf: Yeah, 30 years. He might be eligible for parole after serving 30 years. Look at this, Travis McMichael who actually did the shooting is 35 years old. Gregory McMichael, his father, is 66 years old. And William “Roddie” Bryan is 52 years old. Could age be taken into consideration during today’s sentencing?

Page: It certainly could. I mean, the judge can recognize that even a life sentence with the possibility of parole could be an effective life sentence, especially for Greg McMichaels, the older of the three defendants. But I think at the end of the day, a judge is gonna impose a sentence based on the severity of the crime, which here is, obviously, very severe, and the relative roles of each of these defendants. And that’s where I think Travis McMichael is probably the most likely to receive a life without the possibility of parole.

Wolf: Do you think we’ll hear from the defendants, actually, today? Do you think they’re gonna give us some sort of statement?

Page: Well, that’s a great question. I mean, obviously, there are two things that might have their lawyers suggest that they not make a statement. Number one is, this case will be appealed to the Georgia Supreme Court right after the sentences are imposed. And secondly, there is this federal trial that’s gonna take place next month, right here in Brunswick. And so anything these guys say in court could later be used against them. And so, while they may simply say they accept the verdict of the jury, they regret what happened, I doubt you’re gonna hear anything more substantial than that from any of these defendants.

Wolf: We’ll have live coverage coming up in the next hour of that hearing. Page Pate, thank you very, very much. Still ahead…