A suburban Atlanta man who prosecutors said intentionally
left his 22-month-old son strapped inside a hot car to die
because he wanted to live a child-free life will remain
jailed pending his trial, a judge has ruled.
Magistrate Judge Frank Cox also found probable cause for
murder and child cruelty charges against Justin Ross Harris,
33, of Marietta, Georgia, after hearing evidence that he
exchanged nude photographs with women other than his wife
while he was at work and his son was dying in the car on June
The lead investigator in the case testified Harris was having
marital and work problems. He had done Internet research on
living child-free and how to survive in prison before leaving
son Cooper Harris in his sport utility vehicle for seven
hours on a hot day, said Cobb County Police Detective Phil
"We believe the evidence has shown that this was
intentional," Assistant District Attorney Chuck Boring said.
Defense attorney Maddox Kilgore accused prosecutors of trying
to publicly shame Harris with tawdry testimony. He said there
was no proof that his client knowingly left the child in the
car on a day when the temperature in Atlanta was in the 90s
Harris told police he forgot to drop his son off at daycare
before heading to work the morning of June 18.
"An action doesn't become a crime because the results were
catastrophic," Kilgore said.
Testimony on Thursday focused largely on Harris' actions and
behaviour on the day his son died. Harris said he ate
breakfast at a restaurant with Cooper, kissed him after
strapping him into a rear-facing carseat and then forgot his
son was there as he drove less than a mile (1.6 km) to work,
according to Stoddard.
Stoddard said Harris raised police suspicions by not
mentioning he had visited his car to drop something off
during his lunch break and by not showing emotion when
interviewed later by detectives.
Two coworkers said Harris did not appear nervous that day. A
man who saw the father after he pulled into a shopping center
parking lot and appeared to try to revive his son said he
believed Harris' grief at the scene was genuine.
"I heard the desperate cries of a father who had just lost
his son," said witness Leonard Madden.
According to search warrants, Harris and his wife said they
had conducted Internet searches about how hot cars needed to
be for a child to die inside because they feared it would
Harris' wife has not been charged, and police have declined
to say whether she is a suspect.
When Leanna Harris went to pick up Cooper from daycare on
June 18 and learned he was not there, she told the
receptionist, "Ross must have left him in the car," Stoddard