Justin Ross Harris is accused of intentionally leaving his 22-month-old son to die in a sweltering car, but the man’s wife is standing by him, maintaining that it was nothing more than a tragic accident.
Leanna Harris spoke out about her son Cooper’s death, telling mourners at the boy’s funeral that she does not blame her husband for what happened.
“Am I angry with Ross?” Leanna Harris said at the funeral in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. “Absolutely not. It has never crossed my mind. Ross is and was and will be, if we have more children, a wonderful father. Ross is a wonderful daddy and leader for our household. Cooper meant the world to him.”
Justin Ross Harris told police that he forgot to bring the boy to day care, accidentally leaving him in the back seat of the family’s SUV in temperatures that reached 90 degrees.
Though it appeared at first to be a tragic accident, police reportedly unraveled what may have been an intentional plot. Unnamed law enforcement sources have told media outlets that Justin Ross Harris did an internet search for how long it takes an animal to die in a hot car.
“The chain of events that occurred in this case does not point toward simple negligence and evidence will be presented to support this allegation,” said Cobb County Police Chief John House.
Justin Ross Harris spoke at the boy’s funeral services, speaking via telephone from the Cobb County Jail outside Atlanta.
“Thank you for everything you’ve done for my boy,” he said. “Good life. (Inaudible) No words to say. Just horrible. (Inaudible) I’m just sorry I can’t be there.”
Leanna Harris supported her husband, telling him she loved him. She also gave some context to the tragedy, saying that the boy had trouble sleeping and may have left the parents sleep deprived.
Leanna noted that for the two nights before the boy’s death he ended up in bed with his parents.
“I remember turning over in the middle of the night, his mouth was open and his full toddler lips just breathing right into my face,” she said. “I will cherish that moment forever.”
Not everyone has been so supportive. Some family friends organized a petition on change.org, but took it down after charges were leveled.
“I still pray that this was truly an accident,” a note on the site read. “If that is the case, the DA now knows that the community does not want Justin prosecuted on murder charges.”
Justin Ross Harris has been charged with murder and second-degree child cruelty.