Justin Ross Harris of Atlanta, Georgia, was indicted earlier this month on charges of murder after he allegedly left in 22-month-old son Cooper in a car while he went to work.
Harris reportedly told investigators that he forget to drop off his son at daycare before going to work on June 18. Harris took Cooper to a Chick-fil-a for breakfast and proceeded to drive to his nearby place of employment. Getting breakfast at Chick-fil-a was a normal part of Harris’ routine, but he typically drove Ross to the daycare center afterwards. On June 18, Harris did not drop his son off at daycare, and instead proceeded to go to work, leaving Ross trapped in the sweltering-hot car for approximately seven hours. When Harris went back to his car after getting off work, he discovered Cooper was deceased.
An autopsy of 22-month-old Cooper revealed that he died of extreme heat (hyperthermia), and that he was in rigor mortis when he was removed from the vehicle.
Harris is now being charged with eight counts related to the hot-car death of his son Cooper. Prosecutors claim Harris was leading a double life, engaging in “sexting” and other inappropriate acts. According to prosecutors, Harris frequently sent and received explicit texts and nude images to various girls while he was at work. One of the girls was allegedly 17 at the time of the incident, so Harris may face additional charges in connection with this incident.
“It was always an accident and when the time comes and we work through the state’s maze of theories at trial, it’s still going to be a terrible, gut-wrenching accident,” said Harris’ defense attorney in a statement to the press.
One of the most critical pieces of evidence in this case, however, is search history data taken from Harris’ computer. Prosecutors say Harris performed searches related to “hot car deaths” before the incident occurred. While this isn’t concrete evidence that merits a conviction, it’s certainly one more tool that prosecutors can use to convince a jury that Harris deliberately planned the deadly incident involving his 22-month-old son.
Prosecutors also note that Harris’ wife may face charges.
“I am surprised that the district attorney is still contemplating, after almost three months of reviewing the evidence, whether or not to charge my client, if that is who he was referring to in his press conference,” Mr. Zimmerman said in an email.