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Morning Headlines: Man Convicted of Murder and Child Cruelty now Entitled to a New Trial

Georgia’s highest court on Wednesday overturned the murder and child cruelty convictions against a man whose toddler son died after he left him in a hot car for hours, saying the jury saw evidence that was “extremely and unfairly prejudicial.”

Justin Ross Harris was convicted in November 2016 on eight counts of malice murder in the death of his 22 month old son Cooper. The court ruled that much of the evidence having to do with Harris’ sexual activity should not have been admitted and may have improperly influenced the jury. The ruling means Harris is entitled to a new trial.

Superior Court Judge Eric Norris Publicly Reprimanded

Superior Court Judge Eric Norris will be publicly reprimanded for detaining and berating a bail bondsman who had criticized Norris on social media… under a ruling Wednesday by the Georgia Supreme Court.

In its opinion, the court found that Norris had violated two codes of conduct: one that requires judges to act in a way that promotes confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary, the other that requires judges to be “patient, dignified and courteous” to people they deal with in their official capacity.

The court added Norris has not fully accepted responsibility for what he did. And because Norris has not already apologized to bondsman Nathan Owens, a public apology, which Norris had offered, “would be insincere at best. A judge will be appointed to give the reprimand to Norris “in person in open court.”

Commerce Motel 6 Destroyed by Fire

The motel 6 at Banks Crossing in Commerce was destroyed by fire. About 30 people staying in the motel had to be relocated to other motels in the area. Two firefighters were transported to Piedmont Athens Regional Medical Center for fatigue and heat exhaustion. The fire has been ruled accidental.

UGA President Morehead Chosen by NCAA for it's Board of Governors

UGA President Jere Morehead is among nine new voting members chosen by the NCAA for its Board of Governors. The Board of Governors is the highest governance body for the NCAA. It has several responsibilities, including oversight of the finances of the association, employment and evaluation of the NCAA president, and media rights and revenue-producing contracts. Terms are generally for two years and are renewable for an additional two years.

Walmart Expands Health Program

Walmart is expanding a health program that began in Georgia to other states.

Walmart says it chose to extend coverage to states where the impact would be immediate. The company said that in Indiana, 33 counties don’t have OB-GYN services.