Justin Harris, the Georgia father who left his 22-month-infant in a sweltering car, researched hot-car deaths, an appalling twist to an already suspicious story. The 33-year-old father from Marietta was charged with murder last week after he allegedly “forgot” that his infant son Cooper was in a carseat, for seven hours, while Harris went to work at Home Depot’s administrative offices.
On June 20, we brought you this story:
Georgia man charged in baby death: Ga. man’s baby boiled to death in hot car
Harris was charged with felony murder and cruelty to children in the first degree. According to a Reuters news report on June 19, the suburban Atlanta dad was “supposed to drop his son at a day care center on Wednesday morning on his way to work, Cobb County Police spokesman Dana Pierce said. Harris instead went to his office and the child spent the day in his car seat, the spokesman said.”
The National Weather Service showed that temperatures in Atlanta that day reached an intense 92 degrees. Investigators say the temperatures inside of the car would have reached closer to 100 degrees.
According to the NY Daily News, Harris was devastated and was seen by witnesses in a mall’s parking lot screaming “What have I done? I’ve killed our child!” after realizing that Cooper was left inside of his SUV. After leaving work for the day and driving a few miles, Harris pulled into a mall parking lot, allegedly just realizing at that point that his son was still in the backseat.
Cobb County police said a crowd had gathered around the vehicle after Harris pulled over and took Cooper out of his Hyundai Tucson. Harris laid Cooper on the ground and CPR was attempted on the boy, but efforts to revive him were unsuccessful. Police commented that Harris had to be restrained because he was so distraught.
But new details that are emerging that Harris did an online search for the phrase: “How long does it take for an animal to die in a hot car?” Police seized the computer from the father’s office at work. Investigators would not say if Harris performed the search the day Cooper died or ahead of time as Harris claims.
Cooper himself confirmed the Internet search:
“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,” read the warrant, released today by Magistrate Court of Cobb County in Georgia. “Justin stated that he was fearful that this could happen.”
Harris, who was not granted a release from jail to attend his son’s funeral, has stuck by his story that he simply “forgot” his boy was in the backseat. It’s also unclear why the nearly two-year-old boy didn’t try to get out of the car.
Reports CNN: “Though Harris wasn’t allowed out of the Cobb County Jail to attend his son’s funeral on Saturday in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, he called in and spoke to the entire auditorium on speakerphone.”
On the day Cooper died, Harris took his son to breakfast. He even went out to his car around lunchtime to put something in his vehicle.
CNN said that the “charging of Harris triggered a wave of sympathy and a vigorous debate over whether the heartbroken father should be punished.”
The horrific case initially caused outrage when the story broke; individuals prematurely flocked to sign a Change.org petition that encouraged prosecutors to drop the charges against Harris. The petition has since been yanked after this new information surfaced.