Georgia Toddler's Hot Car Death

Georgia Toddler's Hot Car Death

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Updated Jul 05, 2014 at 02:34PM EDT by MScratch.

Added Jul 01, 2014 at 12:48PM EDT by Molly Horan.

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Overview

Georgia Toddler’s Hot Car Death refers to the ongoing police investigation of the death of two-year-old Cooper Harris who died from hyperthermia after his father, Justin Ross Harris, allegedly forgot to drop him off at daycare and left him in the backseat of the car for eight hours. The case gained much online attention after it became evident that both of the toddler’s parents had conducted online research about hyperthermia-related deaths caused by prolonged exposure to heat in automobiles.

Background

On the morning of June 18th, 2014, Justin Ross Harris,[1] a 33-year-old web designer for Home Depot in Cobb County, Georgia, drove to work with his two-year-old son Cooper in the backseat. According to Harris, he was supposed to drop him off at day care before heading to his office located in the same building, but on this day, he forgot that his son was in the car and went straight to work instead. Harris claims that he didn’t realize he had left his son in the car until he was driving home from work at the end of the day, at which point, he pulled into a shopping square and attempted to perform CPR on the boy. Witnesses say Harris seemed distraught and screamed “what have I done.” The child was pronounced dead at the scene and the father was taken into police custody for questioning.

Notable Developments

On the day after the incident, Harris was charged with felony murder and cruelty to children in the first degree. During the interview with the investigators, the suspect told police that he used the Internet to research child deaths inside vehicles. Harris was not permitted to attend his son’s funeral, which was held on June 28th,[14] though he did address the attendees via phone.

News Media Coverage

That same day, several major U.S. news sites reported on the arrest of the father on murder, including USA Today[11], NBC News[14], CBS News[12], ABC News[3] and CNN.[6][12][13]

Petition

On June 23rd, 2014, YouTuber Ross Harris[9] uploaded a video titled “Ross Harris Support Video,” which alleges that Vic Reynolds, the district attorney who has been assigned to the case, was pursuing charges against the boy’s father to bolster his own career, and calls for Harris to be allowed bail so he can grieve with his family.



The same day, an anonymous sympathizer of Harris created a Change.org petition[4] urging District Attorney Vic Reynolds to drop the charges against him. As of June 25th,[5] the petition has gained over 11,000 signatures. However, the petition was closed on June 28th, after new evidence against Harris emerged. A message on the petition reads:

“This petition is closed due to the new information released in regards to this case.”


As of July 1st, the petition has less than 700 remaining signatures.

Search History Discovery

On June 24th, the Cobb County Police issued a new arrest warrant[1] for Harris after discovering that he had returned to his vehicle in the parking lot at lunchtime. During the interrogation process, Harris told police that he had recently searched for information on deaths caused by being left in hot cars on his computer. On June 29th, a search and seizure warrant was issued for Harris’ personal possessions, which included:

“a Dell Dimension 9200 Computer Tower, Google Chrome cast, a MacBook Pro Laptop, a Lenovo T530 Think Pad, an Apple MacBook Pro, and iPhone and an iPad.”


Also on June 29th, the police revealed Harris wife and the mother of his son, Leanna Harris, had also searched for information on death’s caused by being left in a hot car.

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