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New details shine a light on Cobb Police murder charges in toddler’s death

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Cobb County Police say the father of a 22 month old boy should have known that the child was in the vehicle, and have issued a new murder warrant that lays out details in a case that has gained national attention. The autopsy, released Wednesday afternoon, confirms Cooper Harris' death was the result of hyperthermia. The child was left in a hot car by his father, and his death has been ruled as a homicide.

33-year old Justin Ross Harris remains behind bars without bond and will not be allowed to attend the services for his son Copper which will be at 1:00 p.m. Saturday, June 28, 2014, at University Church of Christ. The private family burial will be held at Tuscaloosa Memorial Chapel Funeral Home.

Harris originally told police he drove to work at Home Depot around 9 a.m. Wednesday, and forgot to drop his son off at daycare. He said he did not notice his son until he was heading home some 7 hours later. The toddler died in the SUV on June 18th.

However the new warrant, released Wednesday, tells a different story of Harris’ movements. The charges now stand at Felony Murder and Cruelty to Child, 2nd Degree. According to a copy of the warrant posted on wsbtv.com, Harris placed Cooper into a rear facing car seat in the center of the back seat in his 2011 Hyundai Tucson. Harris and his son had breakfast at 2485 Cumberland Parkway SE., a Vinings Chick-fil-a. He then drove to his job, just minutes away at 2600 Cumberland Blvd. Harris left his son strapped in the SUV while he entered work.

The warrant goes on to say that Harris entered the car during lunch on the driver’s side door to place an object inside the vehicle. He then closed the door and returned to his place of business leaving the child alone for the second time. After 4 p.m. Harris left work in his vehicle and pulled over at a shopping center on Akers Mill Rd. to ask for assistance with Copper who was found deceased.

For the last week, the Cobb County Police Department has taken a verbal lashing from the community calling the charges placed on Justin Harris “too harsh” and “excessive.”

Cobb Police Sgt. Dana Pierce told the Marietta Daily Journal on Tuesday, “There is so much more that has shed light on what’s going on. What I learned from investigators shocked my conscience.”

On Wednesday, FOX 5 I-Team reporter Randy Travis reported that investigators seized Harris' work computer from Home Depot after his arrest last week. Travis say, “A Cobb law enforcement source says in the search history of the computer was evidence that someone searched for information on how long it takes for an animal to die in a hot car.” Travis says Fox 5 I-Team has not been able to confirm when that Internet search was conducted.

Since last week, more than 11,300 people have signed an online petition for the charges of child cruelty and murder to be dropped against Justin Ross Harris. Also as of Wednesday, the online site to raised $25,000 dollars for the Harris family has grown to $22,137.

Chief John R. Houser of the Cobb County Police Department released a statement on Wednesday addressing the high emotions of this case, but also call on the community to “let the judicial system work as it is designed”.

I understand the tragic accidents similar to this one do occur and in most cases the parents simply made a mistake that cost them the life of their child. This investigation, although similar in nature to others, must be weighed on its own merit and the facts that led our detectives to charge the father must be presented at the appropriate time during the judicial process…I fully understand the emotional impact this case has on the public, and as concerned citizens and parents everyone wants to know how this could happen. With that being said, the Police Department can not share specific details of the investigation with the public. As the investigation continues, there will be times during the process that additional information will be released.…In fairness to everyone involved in the emotional case, I would ask that you not make conclusions based on rumor or suspicions and let our judicial system work as it is designed.

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