ATLANTA – A Georgia man whose son died after he was left in a hot car for seven hours was charged Thursday with murder in the toddler’s death.
A Cobb County grand jury indicted Justin Ross Harris on multiple charges including malice murder, felony murder and cruelty to children. Harris has been in jail since his arrest the day his son died.
Harris has told police he was supposed to drive his son to day care the morning of June 18 but drove to work without realizing that the child was strapped into a car seat in the back.
Police have said the toddler was left in a vehicle for about seven hours on a day when temperatures in the Atlanta area reached at least into the high 80s. The medical examiner’s office has said the boy died of hyperthermia – essentially overheating – and has called his death a homicide.
During a three-hour hearing in July, prosecutor Chuck Boring questioned a police detective at length, outlining evidence he said proved that Harris intentionally left his young boy in the hot SUV. But defense attorney Maddox Kilgore argued that the evidence was insufficient and that the boy’s death was a tragic accident.
Cobb County Police Detective Phil Stoddard testified at the hearing that Harris was sitting in his office exchanging nude photos with several women, including a teenager, the day his son died. Stoddard said Harris also had looked at websites advocating a child-free lifestyle and had researched how long it takes to die in a hot car.
Harris is a native of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, and moved to Georgia in 2012 to work for Home Depot.