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Report: 22-month-old Cobb County boy's death was homicide, not simply negligence

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The death of a 22-month-old who was left inside a hot SUV for seven hours has been ruled a homicide according to the autopsy results released Wednesday– and police said they are still finding evidence that suggest the boy’s death may not be simply negligence.

“The chain of events that occurred in this case does not point toward simple negligence and evidence will be presented to support this allegation,” Cobb County police Chief John Houser said in a news release.

The Cobb County Medical Examiner’s Office said it’s waiting for toxicology test results before making an official ruling as to the cause and manner of death, but that they believe the cause of Cooper Mills Harris’ death is “consistent with hyperthermia and the investigative information suggests the manner of death is homicide.”

Cooper died June 18 after being left in his car seat in the backseat of his father’s Hyundai Tucson for seven hours, according to Cobb County police. He was pronounced dead in the parking lot of an Akers Mill Road shopping center, police spokesman Sgt. Dana Pierce has said. His father, Justin Ross Harris, 33, was arrested and charged with murder about five hours later, police said.

That morning Harris was supposed to drop his son off at daycare, but took another route to work, according to Channel 2 Action News. Then around noon he was seen on camera opening his vehicle and dropping an item inside, just inches from where the toddler was in his car seat, the station reported.

“I understand that tragic accidents similar to this one do occur and in most cases the parent simply made a mistake that cost them the life of their child,” Houser wrote. “This investigation, although similar in nature to others, must be weighed on its own merit and the facts that lead our detectives to charge the father must be presented at the appropriate time during the judicial process.”

The child's mom was also questioned in the connection with the case, police said. The investigation is ongoing, they said.