COBB COUNTY, Ga. - The Cobb man accused of leaving his toddler son in an SUV for seven hours researched child deaths inside vehicles, according to new documents obtained by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Justin Harris has been held without bond at the Cobb County jail since the night of June 18, hours after 22-month-old Cooper Harris was declared dead in a shopping center parking lot. In addition to murder, Justin Harris has also been charged with second degree child cruelty, also a felony.
“During an interview with Justin, he stated that he recently researched, through the internet, child deaths inside vehicles and what temperature it needs to be for that to occur,” according to search warrants.“Justin stated that he was fearful that this could happen.”
The documents were released hours before family members prepared for Cooper’s funeral in Alabama, scheduled for 1 p.m. Saturday at Tuscaloosa’s University Church of Christ. The family is from Tuscaloosa.
According to warrants released Saturday, Justin Harris was on his way to meet up with friends when he discovered Cooper was still in the SUV the afternoon of June 18.
“The child was left in the vehicle since approximately 0930 hrs this morning until he was discovered by Justin at around 1620 hrs when he was driving to meet up with some friends,” authorities said in the documents.
Justin Harris, a Home Depot IT specialist, told police his SUV with his son inside was parked unattended all day. An arrest warrant made available Wednesday stated he opened the driver side door of his Hyundai Tuscon, placed something in the vehicle, and then went back to work.
According to that same warrant, Harris deviated from his normal routine. After having breakfast at Chick-fil-A, the suspect drove directly to his office at 2600 Cumberland Parkway instead of going to Home Depot’s daycare facility on Paces Ferry Road, where Cooper was a regular.
According to the warrants, Cobb authorities searched Justin Harris’ light blue 2011 Hyundai Tucson, his iPhone and the family’s condo. The SUV was searched for trace evidence, including the child’s car seat, any electronic data storage devices in the vehicle, and “any paperwork and or writings related to the crime of Homicide and Cruelty to Children,” according to the warrant.
Authorities searched the condo for evidence including a computer tower, laptop and other electronic devices. The condo was also searched for papers, writings, documents, photographs and evidence of child neglect and child abuse.
Stay with Channel 2 Action News for updates on this developing story.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution contributed to this report.