GA father researched child deaths in hot cars

GA father researched child deaths in hot cars

Credit: 11Alive

Leanna, Cooper and Ross Harris



Posted on June 28, 2014 at 12:37 PM

Updated Saturday, Jun 28 at 3:35 PM

COBB COUNTY, Ga. — A man charged in the hot-car death of his son was not allowed to attend the boy's funeral in Alabama on Saturday, but he did call in and spoke to those attending over a speaker phone.

Justin Ross Harris, 33, is charged with murder and second-degree cruelty to a child in the death of his 22-month-old son, Cooper. Harris told investigators that he forgot to drop the boy off at day care on his way to work on June 18.

Search warrants released Saturday show authorities searched Harris' home, computer, cellphone and car. In an interview with officials, Harris stated he had recently done online research into child deaths inside hot vehicles, including looking up what temperature it needs to be for that to occur, according to the official warrants.

According to jail officials, Harris did not formally request permission to attend his son's funeral in Alabama on Saturday.

Harris' attorney disputes that, claiming he was told that his client wouldn't be able to attend the funeral regardless. The attorney says he also asked the police department for copies of photographs of Cooper off computers that were seized during the investigation. The police department denied that request.

"We must preserve the integrity of the evidence and chain of custody in this case," Cobb County Police Officer Mike Bowman said in a statement.

Search warrants released

The newly released search warrants show police searched Ross' home, computer, cell phone and car.

According to the official warrants:

    On 06/18/14 at 1624 hrs Pct 3 officers responded to 2955 Akers Mill Rd, Atlanta GA regarding a person down call. When the officers arrived on scene they discovered that Cooper Harris 08-02-12 was deceased. The CAP unit was contacted and responded to the scene regarding a homicide investigation. Justin Harris, the deceased subject's father was witnessed pulling into the parking lot of Uncle Maddio's Pizza, 2955 Akers Mill Rd in a 2011 Hyundai Tucson, GA tag.... The vehicle came to a sudden stop. Justin quickly exited the vehicle, opened the driver side passenger door and pulled his child, Cooper Harris out of the vehicle. Justin was witnessed yelling "Oh my god what have I done". He then began doing CPR on the child. When someone came to assist Justin he stopped providing medical attention to the child and started making calls on his cell phone. EMS responded to the scene. It was obvious that the child was deceased. Justin stated that he went to work that morning and forgot to drop the child off at day care. Justin left his residence, took the child to Chic-fil-A in Vinings and then went to work. The child was left in the vehicle since approximately 0930 hrs this morning until he was discovered by Justin at around 1620 hrs when he was driving to meet up with some friends. The temperature was in the 90's for most of the day. During an interview with Justin, He stated that he recently researched, through the internet, child deaths inside vehicles and what temperature it needs to be for that to occur. Justin stated that he was fearful that this could happen.

The warrant to search Ross' home was for "evidence to include papers, writings, documents, photographs, evidence of child neglect, child abuse and photograph the residence."

The warrant to search Ross' home computer was for "evidence to include a laptop computer, computer tower, Google chrome cast internet searcher and other electronic devises."

The warrant to search Ross' car was for "trace evidence including but not limited to latent impressions, hairs, fibers, fingerprints, blood, or DNA, a child car seat, cell phones, photograph the vehicle, take measurements of the vehicle, computers, electronic communication devices, any electronic data storage devices located inside the vehicle, any paperwork and or writings related to the crime of Homicide and Cruelty to Children"

The warrant for the cell phone stated the phone "will be physically examined, documented, the storage devices forensically imaged or copied (if necessary), and later examined for evidence of these crimes."

Harris will remain locked up at least until his probable cause hearing on July 3.