'WOMAN IN BLACK' REVEALEDMAJOR POT CROP FOUNDGAS LEAK MISTAKESNEW WAREHOUSE ROW STORES
WTVC NewsChannel 9 :: News - Top Stories - Georgia Father Charged in 'Hot Car Death' in Court Thursday
Updated:
Thursday, July 3 2014, 02:37 PM EDT
Georgia Father Charged in 'Hot Car Death' in Court Thursday
A Georgia father accused in the hot-car death of his 22-month-old son will head to court today, with authorities expected to outline their reasons for charging the man with murder.

A judge will decide today a probable cause hearing whether the case against Justin Ross Harris can proceed.

Harris, 33, told police that he forgot to drop his 22-month-old son Cooper off at daycare before heading to work June 18. Cooper remained strapped in his child seat for hours. The temperature outside reached 90 degrees.

Harris placed an object in the SUV at lunch time that day and then returned to his office, disregarding the boy in the back seat, according to a police warrant.

Driving home from work later, he pulled over his SUV in a shopping center parking lot, distraught.

The official cause of death was hyperthermia, overheating of the body. Harris has pleaded not guilty.

New Tennessee Law allows people to break car windows if children are locked in a car.

In the days after Cooper's death, Harris drew online support from people who believe he simply made a tragic mistake and should have the charges dropped against him because he has already suffered enough. But authorities hinted that there was more to the story.

"I understand that tragic accidents similar to this one do occur and in most cases the parent simply made a mistake that cost them the life of their child," Cobb County Chief of Police John Houser said in a statement released last week. "This investigation, although similar in nature to others, must be weighed on its own merit and the facts that led our detectives to charge the father must be presented at the appropriate time during the judicial process."

Some of those allegations emerged in an arrest warrant, with authorities accusing the father, as well as his wife, Leanna Harris, of searching the Internet for information on child heatstroke inside cars before their son's death.

Leanna Harris has not been charged with a crime.

Atlanta defense attorney Steve Sadow said the timing of those Internet searches is important.

"If it was done 24 hours or 48 hours before the incident; that's too coincidental," Sadow said. "If it was done weeks in advance, it could have been on the news or the Internet about the death of another child."

 HLN host Nancy Grace said the web searches stand out to her.

"If they were done months or a year ago, that could be concerned parents trying to learn how to keep a baby safe," she said. "But the closer it gets to Cooper's death, the more suspicious it looks."

ABC News Chief Legal Affairs Anchor Dan Abrams expects many details to emerge at today's hearing.

"I think prosecutors want the public to hear what they have to eliminate sympathy and those people who say he's a grieving father who forgot his child," Abrams said.

In addition to the murder charge, Abrams said the prosecutors made an interesting decision to reduce a child cruelty charge from first- to second-degree. First-degree child cruelty requires intent, while a second-degree charge entails reckless behavior, Abrams said.

"They may not be able to prove he was trying to kill the child, but they have a strong case that he was reckless," Abrams said.

Friends and family celebrated Cooper's life Saturday. While Harris was not allowed to attend, he made an emotional phone call using a speakerphone from the Cobb County Jail, according to ABC News affiliate WSB-TV in Atlanta.

He tearfully thanked the mourners for their support.

Leanna Harris also spoke, calling her husband a great father and saying she'll miss their son forever.

Relatives say no one loved and worshipped the boy more than his father.Georgia Father Charged in 'Hot Car Death' in Court Thursday

Advertise with us!

Related Stories

  • TN/GA Regional News
  • National News
  • International News
  • WTVC :: Community - The Good Life

    The Good Life

    Celebrating the events, adventures and activities that represent "The Good Life" in the NewsChannel 9 viewing area.
  • WTVC :: Community - Sideroads

    Sideroads

    Take a ride with Brian Smith to explore the unique people and places to be found along the Sideroads of the NewsChannel 9 viewing area.
  • WTVC :: Community - Road Trippin

    Road Trippin

    Come Road Trippin' with us and see all the great sites in your area!
  • WTVC :: Community - Closings and Delays

    Closings and Delays

    These are the latest School and Business Closings reported to NewsChannel 9. If you see errors or need to add a school or business, call 423-757-7320.
  • WTVC :: Community - Educator of the Year

    Educator of the Year

    Vote now on your favorite candidate teacher for the Educator of the Year!
  • WTVC :: Community - Wednesday's Child

    Wednesday's Child



  • WTVC :: Community - Deaf & Hard of Hearing

    Deaf & Hard of Hearing

    Information provided to NewsChannel 9 by members of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Community.
  • WTVC :: Community - Community Calendar

    Community Calendar



  • WTVC :: Community - Photo Galleries

    Photo Galleries



  • WTVC :: Community - Sponsored Events

    Sponsored Events

    Check Back Often for NewsChannel9 Sponsored Events!

NewsChannel9 Top Stories

Robbery at Collegedale Credit Union

UPDATE: Hundreds Of Marijuana Plants Found In Grundy County

Gas Leak Follow Up: Mistakes Made

Bulletproof Vests Approved for Chattanooga Firefighters

Summer's Last Splash: A Really Cool Treehouse

Summer's Last Splash: Hiking in Marion County

Summer's Last Splash: the Lookouts

Summer's Last Splash: School Supply Race Between Latricia & Josh

New Retail Stores & Spa Coming to Warehouse Row

Hamilton County Teachers Surveyed on Top Needed School Supplies

Bike Traffic Light on North Shore First of Its Kind in Tennessee

Collegedale Concession Stand Fire Believed Arson

Boyd Buchanan Football Squad to Use Safer Helmets

Portion of Highway 58 Dedicated To Fallen Firefighter

Four Car Accident On Highway 58

Effort Underway to Build Parks in Honor of Child Who Died in Hot Car

GMC Mid-Morning Update for Thursday

It's a Geep?!?!

Ebola Update in West Africa

Our Thursday Facebook Friend of the Day

Dump Truck Tips Over on Mowbray Mtn.

New Hospital To Aid One Of The Unhealthiest Counties in TN

Mocs First Day of Practice

All on Board For CFC National Championship Game

Chattanooga Police Chief Addresses Department Diversity Concerns

UPDATE: New Clinic Means New Hope for Veterans

Identity of Mysterious "Woman in Black" Revealed

Gas Leak Forces Business Evacuations

Candidates Vie For Hamilton County District 1 Commission Seat

Parents Petition to Preserve Popular Playground

Back to School Means It's Immunization Time

Tennessee's TCAP Scores Released

Marion County Girl Named TN's National American Miss

Woman Testifies She Saw Holly Bobo on Video

GMC Mid-Morning Update for Wednesday

Middle East Update

A Close Call as a Train Comes!

Fugitives on the Run Caught

Our Wednesday Facebook Friend of the Day

Residents Sound Off To Chattanooga City Council On Sound Ordinance

Chattanooga Man Shot in the Hip

Accuser Collapses During Preliminary Hearing for Rape Suspect

Phone Scam Targeting Seniors Spreading to Area Counties

Chattanooga City Council Holds Public Hearing on Noise Ordinance Proposal

McMinn County Sheriff's Office Gets Guns from Military Surplus

Last Airman Aboard Enola Gay Dies in Georgia

House Fire Blamed on Man Using Electric Pump to Transfer Gasoline

3rd Annual GigTank Event Showcases Inventions, Ideas and Innovation

Bipartisan Deal to Reform VA Includes New Clinic in Chattanooga

US & Europe to Impose Tough New Sanctions on Russia

Child's Body Found in Wheel Well of U.S. Military Aircraft

Immigrant Advocates Say They're Puzzled by Governor Haslam's Letter to President Obama

Georgia Mother Charged with Leaving Kids in Hot Car

Overturned Tractor Trailer in McMinn Co

GMC Mid-Morning Update for Tuesday

MUST SEE: Former UT Vol Peyton Manning Dances at Broncos Practice

Ebola Outbreak in West Africa

GMC teams celebrates Drew Bollea's Birthday

Our Tuesday Facebook Friend of the Day

Changes Coming to Bradley SPCA Animal Shelter

CFC Heading To New Jersey For Championship

Chattanooga Man Shot In The Knee

Bradley County Boy Recovering from Dog Attack

Suspect in Hidden Bathroom Cam Investigation Speaks Out

Snow Leopard Dies at Chattanooga Zoo

Peggy Carroll - A Mother to Children in Need

Chattanooga Choo Choo to Undergo an "Extreme Makeover"

1000 Gallons a Minute: Major Flooding on North Shore

First Day In Pads In Tennessee

House Deemed Total Loss After Fire

Local Business Leaders Discuss Climate Change Impact

Hardwick Clothes Celebrates 134 Years in Business in Cleveland

Health Officials Scramble to Contain Ebola Outbreak

Cell Phone Burns Up Girl's Bed

Massive Phone Outage in Cherokee County, NC

HazMat Spill Shuts Down Amnicola

Severe Weather Strikes Across the Country

Our Monday Facebook Friend of the Day

GMC Mid-Morning Update for Monday

Man Dies in Sunday Morning Stabbing

Cleveland Candlelight Vigil for 17-Month-Old Baby

"Rising Star" Contestant with Local Ties

Governor Haslam's Plea to President Obama Over Immigrant Children

Man Drowns in Polk County

Rival Bikers Involved in Shooting in Athens

Roughnecks Memorial for K9 Tanja

Motorcycle Accident in Clevelend

Singing Sensation: Slava Korsak

From Scraps to Art Bikes

More Negative Political Ads Surface In Third Congressional District Race

10-Month-Old Kansas Girl Dies After Being Left In Hot Car

The Price of Freedom: UTC's Veteran Entrepreneur Program

Chattanooga Man Charged with Aggravated Rape of A Child

Common Core Town Hall Prompts Some to Do Their Research

Police Need Help Finding Fraud Suspects

Bessie Smith Cultural Center Picks Independent Auditing Firm

SL Tennessee Adding 1,000 New Jobs

Dalton Starts "Newcomer Academy" for Young Immigrants

Serious Head-On Crash Sends Several to the Hospital

Main Street Meats Creates Unique Cuts By Hand

Advertise with us!

Newsmax Headlines

Sponsored content

Business News

US jobless aid applications rise to 302,000

WASHINGTON (AP) -- More people sought U.S. unemployment benefits last week, but jobless claims remain at pre-recession levels.

Consumer Info

   WEST PALM BEACH, FL -- (Marketwired) -- 03/21/14 --
 Companies that pride themselves on being eco-friendly may have conflicted
 ideas between marketing with ad specialties and maintaining their green
 reputation. ...

Entertainment News

PRODUCTION OF NEW SEASON OF "BIG BANG THEORY" DELAYED IN CONTRACT DISPUTE

NEW YORK (AP) -- "The Big Bang Theory" is being delayed by a fight over big bucks.

Get This

STOLEN BUDDHA

HALFWAY, Md. (AP) -- It's a heavy crime.

Science/Tech News

IN THE NEWS: BRITAIN-DRIVERLESS CARS

LONDON (AP) -- British officials says driverless cars will be tested on roads in as many as three cities in a trial program to begin in January

Officials said Wednesday the tests will last up to three years.


 

Tonight on WTVC NewsChannel 9

7:00 Wheel of Fortune

7:30 Jeopardy

8:00 Black Box

9:00 Rookie Blue

10:00 NY Med

11:00 NewsChannel 9

11:35 Jimmy Kimmel Live

Complete Schedule »


Road Trippin
No Text Zone
Pay It Forward
Storm Track 9 Radar
Storm Track 9 Weather App