Ross Harris: Georgia Man Accused Of Leaving Son In 91 Degree SUV Indicted In New Sexual Exploitation Charges
A Georgia man, Justin Ross Harris, 35, who was charged for leaving his 22-month-old son, Cooper, inside a hot car, now faces eight new charges of child exploitation. According to NBC News, Harris was indicted Friday, March 5, on six counts of distributing and possessing photographs of minors performing sexual acts, and two counts of sexual exploitation.
According to the indictment, a seven-page document released by the Cobb County District Attorney’s office, Harris shared pictures of his genitals with three different girls and engaged in sexually explicit conversations with them from January 23, 2014, to March 8, 2014.
This is coming on the heels of a 20-month-old investigation into Harris’ life following the June, 2014, death of his son who died in the backseat of the family vehicle. He is set to go to trial on charges of malice murder, cruelty to children, and felony murder.
— New York Daily News (@NYDailyNews) March 4, 2016
Harris claimed he meant to drop Cooper at the daycare center by 9 a.m, but hurried to work and forgot the boy was strapped in the backseat. But upon discovering the boy dead, he tried to cover up his tragic mistake by driving to a nearby shopping center with onlookers claiming “he just started choking,” as good Samaritans tried to revive the child.
The indictment said the suburban Atlanta father had acted with “malice aforethought” when he left his 22-month-old son in a sport utility vehicle on a day temperatures had exceeded 90 degrees Fahrenheit (32 degrees Celsius). The medical examiner’s office said Cooper Harris’ death was caused by hyperthermia—intense heat exhaustion and validated the manner of death as a homicide.
Police believe it was not a catastrophic case of negligence but a premeditated attempt to kill the boy. A law enforcement source said Harris’ work computer at Home Depot had revealed an internet search of how long it would take for an animal to die in the back of a hot car. Furthermore, a police warrant revealed he took the boy to breakfast at Vinings Chick-fil-A before driving to work and he returned to the car at lunch time to put something in the car and left. Bystanders said he was “acting funny” when they tried to save the child.
Harris’ trial date is set for sometime in April, and he now has to battle with a new set of charges–sexual exploitation of minors. His attorney, H. Maddox Kilgore has expressed concern over the timing of these charges.
— Ross Cavitt | WSB-TV (@RossCavittWSB) March 4, 2016
“Despite possessing Ross Harris’ cell phone for almost two years, the Cobb County District Attorney has only now chosen to indict Ross for some alleged consensual electronic communications; we are concerned that the timing of this indictment is a calculated maneuver to inflame public opinion against Ross on the eve of jury selection. It is clear that these allegations are wholly unrelated to the accidental death of Cooper Harris,” the attorney said.
Harris’ defense team have argued that the latest allegations of sexual exploitation be dropped because they have no bearing on the case. But Cobb County District Attorney Vic Reynolds, speaking to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, said the latest indictment could not be delayed.
“Had the state delayed charging any further, prosecution of some of the charges would have been barred by the statute of limitations,” the judge said.
Prosecutors allege that Harris was having marital problems with wife, Leanna when he left his son to die. They say he wanted to live a childfree life. Leanna and Harris have since divorced. Harris was not allowed to attend the burial of 22-month-old Cooper in his hometown of Tuscaloosa, Alabama.
[Photo by Kathryn Ingall/The Marietta Daily Journal via AP, Pool]