Police: Death of toddler in hot car was not “simple negligence”

MARIETTA, Ga. (WIAT) – According to Cobb County investigators, the chain of events leading up to the death of 22-month-old Cooper Harris, “do not point to simple negligence.”

On June 18th police were called to a shopping center parking lot in Marietta, Georgia by bystanders. When they arrived they found an emotional 33-year-old Justin Harris,Tuscaloosa native, a crowd of people and his son was on the ground.

Harris told police he was suppose to drop the toddler off at day care before work, but he forgot.

In a statement released Wednesday, Chief John Houser stated that during their investigation detectives found physical and testimonial evidence that led them to believe that a more serious crime had been committed.

An arrest warrant released by a Cobb County court Wednesday states Harris stopped at a Chick-fil- A, less than a mile away from his job, to eat with his son and then he was placed back in rear-facing car seat inside the SUV.

The warrant also says Harris went back to his car during lunch and placed something inside through the driver side door.

Birmingham defense attorney Greg Cox, says as information continues to surface, it makes his attorneys job much harder.

“It makes it incredibly difficult, it’s like a wound that festers and has gotten bigger and bigger and bigger,” said Cox.

According to police Harris went to work at a Home Depot Corporate office on June 18th. While his son was left inside his SUV roughly seven hours.

Former federal prosecutor Raymond Johnson says a charge of murder in incidents like this is unusual, but Harris is also charged with cruelty to children.

“The cruelty to child charge, that’s a felony under Georgia law. The felony murder rule comes into play because during the commission of committing the felony, the child died,” said Johnson.

The Cobb County Medical Examiner is awaiting a toxicology reporter before releasing the official findings of the autopsy, but state that Cooper Harris’ death is consistent with hyperthermia or over heating of the body, and the manner of death is homicide.


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