Bond denied for alumnus charged in child death case

Bond denied for alumnus charged in child death case


UA alumnus Justin Harris is facing murder and child cruelty charges after the death of his infant. (Cobb County Sheriff’s Department)

Samuel Yang

Prosecutors say the act was intentional, with recent attention turning to his wife, Leanna Harris, and the existence of $27,000 in life insurance policies. Harris, who resides in Georgia, pled not guilty, claiming the death was an accident and that he forgot to drop his son off at daycare before going to work at Home Depot.

A petition calling for the charges to be dropped picked up 11,000 signatures but was shut down after the release of new evidence.

Prosecutors presented evidence in a July 3 probable cause hearing that they said points to Cooper’s death being intentional. Harris returned to his car during his lunch break and tossed some lightbulbs he had purchased in through the driver’s seat. Throughout the day, he sent explicit pictures to women, including one who was underage.

In the weeks leading up the the incident, Harris researched hot car deaths, which he and his wife said was one of their worst fears, searched for information on prison survival and visited pages on a child-free life.

Police were first called to the scene at 4:24 p.m., when Harris pulled over at a shopping center, yelling, “Oh my God, what have I done?” Some bystanders reported genuine grief, while others noted that he never called the police – though he made three other phone calls – and cursed at a police officer who asked him to get off the phone.

Detective Phil Stoddard said Harris’ statements to the police were self-centered and focused on losing his job. Stoddard said Harris’ wife Leanna asked her husband if he said “too much” when being questioned by the police.

New warrants focused on the electronic aspect of the case have been released. The Cobb County Police investigators will look at electronic devices found in Harris’ car,.

Cathy Andreen, director of media relations, said Justin Ross Harris first attended the University in August 2009, graduating from the University in May 2012 with a BS in Commerce and Business Administration with a major in management information systems. Between August 2001 and May 2006, he worked as a parking monitor and later as a mail delivery clerk at the University. He also worked as a police dispatcher for the Tuscaloosa Police Department until 2009.

A $50,000 bond was denied for Harris, and he will remain in Cobb County Jail until his July 15 court appearance.