Harris claims he accidentally left his son in the car. The prosecution says otherwise.


Justin Ross Harris and Cooper.





Justin Ross Harris says he was driving home from work one night, when he noticed his 22-month-old son Cooper sitting in the back-seat.

It was at that moment that 33-year-old Harris reportedly realised he had forgotten to drop his son off at day-care and that his son had been sitting in the back-seat. All day.

And it was this mistake, Harris says, that led to Cooper’s death.

Mamamia originally reported that it appeared Harris may have fallen victim to ‘Fatal Distraction Syndrome’ – a phenomenon that sees dedicated, good parents, forgetting that their children are in the back seat and leaving them inside the car. It happens to an average of 38 kids every year in the United States.

You can read the previous report on the case here: Was this little boy’s death a mistake? Or something more sinister?

But as more details of this specific case have come to light, Harris’ account of the day has been called into question. Autopsy reports show that the little boy died of hyperthermia, and authorities have said that their investigation “suggests that manner of death is homicide”.

These are some of the details that have been revealed in court so far:

Harris returned to the car during the day.

Detective Stoddard told the court that authorities had requested surveillance footage from the parking lot where Harris’ SUV was parked, and discovered that Harris had returned to his car during the day.

CBS News have reported that he went out for lunch with friends, and returned to the car carrying a bag of light bulbs. He opened the driver’s side door to put the bag in the car, before returning to work.


Harris’ defence attorney argued that this was a sign of his innocence. “If that were the case, why in the world would he bring his colleagues right up to the car?” he asked.

22-month-old Cooper.

Harris didn’t notice the boy was in the car when he left the car park

Harris left work and drove out from the car park at approximately 4.15pm – and pulled over to the side of the road when he allegedly realised Cooper was in the back-seat, on his way to a 5.00pm movie.

So what happened in between that time? CBS news reports that surveillance footage shows Harris leaving the car park with his windows wound up.

This is important to the investigation, because when the detectives searched the car – hours later – they said that the smell of decomposition was overwhelming.

Harris’ actions throughout the day

On the day Cooper died, it was also discovered that Harris had been sexting six other women, including a 17-year-old girl. When he was at work he used a phone app called Kik to send pictures of his genitals to other women.

Detective Stoddard also said that Harris frequently spoke with other women through computer messaging services, and had met up with some of them in real life.

According to CNN:

Harris’ attorney repeatedly objected to Cobb County, Georgia, police Detective Phil Stoddard’s testimony claiming that Harris sexted the women — one of whom was underage at the time — but the judge allowed it.

Harris also admitted to cheating on his wife in the past.

There were two life insurance policies on Cooper

Cobb County Police Detective Phil Stoddard revealed in court that Harris had taken out against two life insurance policies on 22-month-old Cooper’s life.

They were worth worth $US2,000 and $US25,000.

Damning search history

In the lead up to Cooper’s death, Harris searched for websites online using the terms “child free” and “how to survive prison”. He had also watched a YouTube video – twice – which showed the deaths of animals left in hot cars.


Further, it was revealed that both Harris and his wife Leanna and searched for information about children dying in hot cars and “how it occurs.” Harris and his wife told detectives they had conducted these searches, because they were concerned about such an event occurring.

The dates that these searches took place, or under what context, have not yet been revealed to the court.

Justin, Leanna and Cooper Harris.

Leanna Harris’ reaction

The detective testified that Leanna Harris had gone to pick up Cooper from daycare that afternoon, and told that he had never been dropped off. When she was told this, Leanna said she suspected her husband “must have left him in the car”.

CBS reports that when police told her that her 22-month-old son had died, she calmly replied it was “her worst nightmare”.

When she was allowed to see her husband – as they had been separated for questioning – she asked him: “Did you say too much?”

Evidence of Harris’ double life

The authorities have said there is evidence that Harris was living a double life. In fact, he had a second family in Alabama. No further details are yet known.

Harris’ defence pointed out inconsistencies with the charge

A friend of Harris’ since college, Alex Hall, revealed that Harris talked about how much he loved his son frequently.

Of that particular day, he said, “Nothing stuck out… Nothing was weird.”

Harris’ lawyer also told the court that Harris had texted his wife that afternoon asking: “When are you going to pick up my buddy?”

Harris will next appear in court on July 15.