June 18, 2014. It was a beautiful Georgia summer day.
Ross Harris, a web developer for Home Depot, put his 2-year-old son Cooper in his car seat, left their condo in Marietta and headed to Chick-fil-A before work and day care.
The father-son breakfast was a tradition for them, according to detectives. Harris and his son would stop by Chick-fil-A near his office a couple times a month. That morning was no different.
The two ate their meal and then Harris loaded Cooper into his rear-facing car seat in the middle of the backseat of his 2011 Hyundai Tucson and drove off.
That’s when something went horribly wrong.
Instead of taking his son to day care just down the road like he did most mornings, Harris drove straight to work at the Home Depot headquarters less than a mile away.
Harris parked his SUV and went into his office, leaving his son strapped in the backseat.
He came back out at lunchtime, opened the driver’s side door and put something inside, surveillance video shows. He then turned around and went back into his office, apparently failing to notice Cooper still strapped inside the car.
Harris returned to his car at 4:16 and left the office to head to a movie. At that point, Cooper had been inside the car for more than seven hours.
While driving down U.S. 41, Harris told police he realized his son was in medical distress, pulled into a nearby shopping center, jumped out of the car and pulled Cooper from the car seat
Witnesses say Harris frantically tried to revive his son while screaming “What have I done?”
Cooper was pronounced dead shortly before 5 p.m.
The high temperature that day reached 92 degrees. According to the Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the internal temperature for cars parked in direct sunlight on days that warm can range from 131 degrees to 172 degrees.
Police say Cooper probably died before noon.
Harris was placed in handcuffs on the scene and taken to the police station. At 10 that night, Harris was charged with murder and booked into the Cobb County jail.
Since day one, Harris told officers it was a horrible mistake and he simply forgot his son was inside the car.
But police say evidence tells a different story.
They say Harris had recently searched hot car deaths and child free lifestyle on his computer. He was also unhappy in his marriage, having extra-marital affairs and sexting other women, including an underage teenager, according to police. On that day, detectives say Harris was exchanging lewd pictures with the teen as Cooper was dying inside his SUV.
In September 2014, Harris was indicted for malice murder and seven other charges.
So was it a mistake or was it murder? It’s now up to a jury to decide.
© 2019 Cox Media Group.