Father researched child deaths in hot cars, warrants show – USA TODAY
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.
Harris told the crowd “thank you for everything. I’m sorry I can’t be there.”
Harris’ wife, Leanna, said, “Ross is, was and will be a great daddy,” to which family and friends gave a standing ovation.
Leanna told the crowd she is not angry with her husband over their son’s death.
Meanwhile, new details have come to light that indicate the father researched child deaths in hot cars before the incident.
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.
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.
More information on the case could be released over the next 48 hours. According to the clerk’s office, the applications for a total of 11 search warrants will be released this weekend. The warrants will not spell out what police actually found or seized, but they will include information about their theory of the crime and what specifically they were looking for.
Harris will remain locked up at least until his probable cause hearing on July 3.
Cooper’s funeral was being held Saturday in Tuscaloosa, Ala., where Ross and his wife, Leanna, were married in 2006.
Ross Harris attended the University of Alabama from 2009 to 2012. The family moved to the Atlanta area when Ross Harris took a job with The Home Depot.
In an obituary published on Thursday, the family stated that “Cooper was loved and cherished and protected by both parents and all family members for his short 22 months of life. He was a happy baby.” The obituary also stated that Cooper loved trucks and cars.