Georgia man Justin Ross Harris, has been indicted on 8 counts by a Cobb County jury for malice murder, felony murder, and cruelty to children. The charges follow the arrest of Harris after he left his 22-month old son Cooper in his SUV for hours, which lead to the child’s death on June 18th, 2014. The accused alleges he drove straight to work and forgot to drop his son, who was strapped at the back in a car seat, at daycare.
Harris Crossed the Line too Many Times
However, at a hearing in July a police detective testified that Harris was in his office exchanging sexually explicit material with several women on that day. He has also been charged for dissemination of harmful material to an underage girl. The 6th count, Criminal Intent to Commit A Felony, was for intentionally attempting to sexually exploit a girl below 18.
Harris is in Big Trouble
Harris is behind bars from the day of the incident leading to the hot car death of his son. During a hearing in July, prosecutors outlined evidence including the Cobb County police detective’s testimony that proved the accused had intentionally left his child in the SUV. However, Harris’s criminal defense lawyer claimed that the hot car death was a tragic accident with insufficient evidence to prove otherwise. Police detective Phil Stoddard said the accused researched online about the duration it takes to die in a hot car. He also browsed websites that promoted a child-free lifestyle.
Harris was arrested and charged with first degree murder within hours of him alleging that he ‘discovered’ his son’s body in the backseat of his car. For no fault of his own, 22 month old Cooper Harris had to endure seven hours inside the SUV on a day when Atlanta recorded temperatures in the high 80s and low 90s. The accused alleges that he returned to his SUV after work and was to meet up with friends but discovered his child’s body as he turned into a strip mall parking lot.
He says he called out for help and attempted to resuscitate Cooper. Witnesses say they heard Harris screaming that his son was dead. According to the medical examiner’s office, Cooper died of hyperthermia and termed his death a homicide.
Incidentally, Leanna Harris, wife of the accused, who has also been the target of the prosecution, has not been charged in the hot car death. She said he was a wonderful father who loved Cooper with all his heart, and was also forgiving for his online behavior. What is even more alarming is the suspicious jailhouse conversation between Harris and his wife where she asked him if he said too much.
Video recordings at the parking lot of Harris’s work space show that he went to lunch with co-workers and even opened the driver’s side door of his SUV to put in some purchases he made. His criminal defense attorneys argued that if their client intended to murder his child he would not have brought his co-workers close to the vehicle during the lunch break.
Both should face steep punishments
Investigators say that Harris specifically searched “child deaths inside vehicles”, which made them even more suspicious. Leanna Harris also told authorities they were concerned that a hot car death could happen to their child and therefore researched what temperature could cause such a death. This is undoubtedly enough even to make a child suspicious let alone the competent authorities. Probably this is enough to put Leanna Harris behind bars as well.