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Houston County bus driver convicted in 6-year-old's death seeks new trial

Shalita Harris says jurors engaged in prejudicial misconduct by researching the possible sentences for the charges she faced.

WARNER ROBINS, Ga. — The case of a Houston County school bus driver convicted of vehicular homicide in the 2018 death of a 6-year-old will go before the Georgia Supreme Court Wednesday. The driver, Shalita Harris, is seeking a new trial.

Harris is claiming jurors engaged in prejudicial misconduct by researching the possible sentences for the charges she faced. The trial court denied her motion for a new trial, and the Court of Appeals upheld the trial court's decision.

She’s now asking the Georgia Supreme Court to consider if the Court of Appeals erred in its judgment.

CASE HISTORY

Jan. 2018: Police say Harris was driving a bus on Forest Park Drive when she hit the curve too fast. The bus went off the road, rolled over, and 6-year-old Arlana Haynes was ejected.

Haynes had a fractured skull, severed legs, kidney and bladder injuries, and intestinal damage. She died hours later at a Macon hospital.

Summer 2018: Prosecutors dropped Harris’ charges of vehicular homicide and reckless driving due to flawed language in the original indictment. Harris was then re-indicted.

Dec. 2019: She was convicted of first-degree vehicular homicide and reckless driving, and acquitted on charges of speeding and second-degree vehicular homicide.

Harris was sentenced by Judge Katherine Lumsden to 10 years – three to be served in prison and the rest on probation.

Chief Assistant District Attorney Erikka Williams told 13WMAZ since Harris was a first-time offender, then her record would be cleared once she completes her prison sentence and probation.

RELATED: Houston County school bus driver sentenced to prison for 2018 fatal accident

RELATED: 'She was sunshine in the rain' | Arlana Haynes' family speaks at news conference

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