The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

State and Nation

July 3, 2014

Hearing for dad whose toddler died in hot SUV

— MARIETTA, Ga. (AP) — Scores of reporters and some curious members of the public gathered Thursday at a courthouse in suburban Atlanta for the hearing of a man charged with murder in his 22-month-old son's death in a hot SUV.

Justin Ross Harris was scheduled to appear Thursday afternoon in Cobb County Magistrate Court for a bond and probable cause hearing. He faces murder and child cruelty charges in the June 18 death of his son, Cooper.

Harris has told police he was supposed to drive his son to day care that morning but drove to work without realizing that his son was strapped into a car seat in the back.

Search warrants released over the weekend showed Harris told investigators he had done an online search on what temperature could cause a child's death in a vehicle. The warrant doesn't specify when Harris did the searches.

Police have said facts in the case "do not point toward simple negligence." An arrest warrant said Harris stopped with his son for breakfast and returned to put something inside his car during the day while the child was still inside. The Cobb County Medical Examiner's office said last week that officials believe the child died of hyperthermia — a condition in which the body overheats. The medical examiner has called the death a homicide.

The temperature that day was 88 degrees at 5:16 p.m., according to a warrant filed the day after the child died.

Harris is a native of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, and moved to Georgia in 2012 to work for Home Depot.

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