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Georgia child who died in dad's car: The facts of the case

Justin Ross Harris, the father of a 22-month old child who died after being left in his father's car, is shown pictured in his Cobb County Detention Center mugshot in June.
Courtesy of Cobb County Adult Detention Center

On Saturday the body of 22-month-old Cooper Harris was laid to rest in Alabama, where the child's father was born, while his father, Justin Ross Harris, 33, remained in the custody of the Cobb County Adult Detention Center in Marietta, Ga. on criminal charges in his death, according to a WXIA report published by 13WMAZ News on June 26.

According to the Cobb County Medical Examiner's Office, the child's cause of death is "consistent with hyperthermia," WJBF ABC News Channel 6 reported on Saturday. But the official agency is awaiting the results of toxicology tests performed before they can rule decisively that hyperthermia was the sole cause of the death.

The manner of the death has been ruled a homicide based upon the investigative information obtained, according to the ME's office, and the Cobb County Chief of Police John Houser has supported that position, stating in his recent letter to the public that "the chain of events that occurred in this case does not point toward simple negligence and evidence will be presented to support this allegation," 11Alive reported.

According to the warrant, the facts of the case thus far show that Justin Ross Harris is alleged to have taken his son Cooper with him to a Chick-fil-A restaurant for breakfast on the morning the child died. Then, upon arriving for his Web designer job at a nearby Home Depot's corporate office, less than a mile from the restaurant, he left the child strapped into his car seat in the vehicle while he entered the building to go to work, at approximately 9 a.m. on June 18.

Police say he would normally have taken his son to the on-site day care instead. And they say that Harris returned to the vehicle at lunch, opening the driver's side door to put something in his vehicle, but did not remove his son from the vehicle, which would have been experiencing more than 90-degree heat at that time.

Upon leaving his job slightly after 4 p.m., Mr. Harris is said to have made a stop at a shopping center on Akers Mill Road, pulling the child from the vehicle and placing him on the ground, to administer CPR. Passerby and witnesses give different reports on the father's behavior at that time, with some expressing compassion and insisting he appeared sincerely distressed, while others voicing that they felt he was acting and behaving suspiciously.

The next hearing date scheduled for Justin Harris in the death of his 22-month old child Cooper will be on July 3. Currently he is still being held without bond in the 11-acre Cobb County Adult Detention Center on one warrant (14W5485), while he is bondable on the second warrant (14W5669). The Cobb County jail inmate records do not reflect an attorney listed for the defendant as of June 27, but the charges listed are felony murder and child cruelty in the second degree.

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