What's this? This is an unbiased just-the-facts news timeline ('newsline') about Justin Ross Harris, created by Newslines' contributors. Help us grow it by finding and summarising news. Learn more

Justin Ross Harris

Justin Ross Harris21 posts
12 Oct, 2015

Explicit texts allowed in evidence


Judge Staley rules against Harris, agreeing with the prosecution that explicit texts he sent to multiple women on the day of his son’s death could provide a motive for the murder charges and could demonstrate Harris’ state of mind leading up to and on the day of the boy’s death. Detectives say Harris had multiple online and in-person affairs and exchanged messages with six women, including an underage girl, as late as 15 minutes from when he last saw his son alive. They also say there is evidence Harris was unhappy in his family life and had said if it weren’t for his son, he would leave his wife. Harris, in one text:

I love my son and all, but we both need escapes.

The trial will begin the week of Feb. 22.

24 Sep, 2014

No death penalty

Harris will not face the death penalty if convicted in the death of his toddler son, 22-month-old Cooper Harris. Cobb County, Ga. District Attorney:

After reviewing Georgia’s death penalty statute and considering other factors, the State will not seek the death penalty in this case at this time. I cannot and will not elaborate at this juncture of the case.

4 Sep, 2014

Indicted on murder charges

Harris is indicted by a grand jury on multiple murder charges. The eight charges include malice murder, felony murder, as well as cruelty to children. Prosecutors:

Harris intentionally left the boy in the car because he wanted a child-free life and had even researched child deaths in hot vehicles on the Internet.

12 Aug, 2014

Wife loses work

Leanna Harris claims picking up the pieces is very difficult due to the media presence.

I had to transfer my job to Alabama, My return to work has been delayed due to the media hounding me. I did lose a consulting job I have had in Alabama for four years due to the media. As of 8/1/14, I have been out of work 43 days.

Defends husband, receives grief counselling

In a victim’s impact statement obtained by Perople magazine, Leanna Harris says:

Ross was a wonderful father and he loved Cooper with all of his heart. Because I saw how he treated our little boy for 22 months, I know without a doubt he would never have knowingly allowed any harm to come to our son. I want you to know what a loving father he was…Whatever issues that transpired in our marriage is between God and us, for He will judge those moral sins. The rush to judgement by the public and the mainstream media has left me with little confidence in our legal system and our society.

She also says she has been receiving grief counselling:

I have been seeing a counselor for my grief due to the loss of my child and my husband. Treatment will likely last the rest of my life. The death of my son is still unreal. Not a moment goes by when I don’t think about him or what our future would have held. The amount of grief this has caused is indefinable. It cannot be explained in words or emotions. I now live a tortured existence. I depend on my Lord for strength and guidance. The storm around my family has prevented us from grieving in the right way, if there is a right way. Some days, I completely break down because I miss my baby and my family so much. August 2nd would have been my precious boy’s 2nd birthday

21 Jul, 2014

Brother criticizes investigation

Harris’ brother, Michael Baygents, a sergeant at a police training center in Alabama, says his brother is being mistreated and unfairly tried.

It’s been frustrating to see it portrayed the way it’s been by the police department. I’m very angry with them. I think they rushed to judgment. I think [Cobb County Police Detective Phil] Stoddard rushed to judgment. I think he made a terrible mistake.

18 Jul, 2014

Lawyer defends wife

Leanna Harris hires Lawrence Zimmerman, the same attorney that represented Richard Jewell, to speak on her behalf. In her defense, Zimmerman states:

Newspapers, television and online media have fostered a poisonous atmosphere in which Leann’s every word, action and emotion or failure to cry in front of a crowd is scrutinized for some supposed hiding meaning…In much the same way, the press unjustly harassed and hounded Olympic bombing hero Richard Jewell when he didn’t behave as some thought he should.

11 Jul, 2014

Donation refund

PayPal says it will refund all people who supported the father accused of leaving his toddler son to die in a scorching hot locked SUV. Customers who used the service to contribute to the campaign at YouCaring.com, where a total of more than $22,000 was given, will be able to get their money back.

YouCaring.com said it does not take sides in legal matters:

The campaign was recently removed from the site so that the controversy and debate surrounding the Harris matter did not become a distraction to the millions of other donors participating in a wide variety of active fundraisers currently taking place in our community.

10 Jul, 2014

Toxicology report negative


The toxicology report on Cooper Harris comes back negative, meaning there were no medications or anything out of the ordinary in the young boy’s system when he died from hyperthermia. The report and the autopsy report, which found the child’s cause of death “consistent with hyperthermia” and that investigative information “suggests the manner of death is homicide,” will not be released to the public until the investigation is complete.

6 Jul, 2014

Wife’s behavior scrutinized

Harris’ wife Leanna’s behavior is investigated. According to Cobb County Police Det. Phil Stoddard, when informed by workers at her son’s day care facility that Cooper had never been dropped off, she calmly responded:

Ross must have left him in the car. There’s no other explanation

Then, when reunited with her husband at police headquarters after he had been charged with murder, Leanna asked him

Did you say too much?

3 Jul, 2014

Probable cause found, bail denied

After a three hour hearing Cobb County Chief Magistrate Frank Cox finds probable cause for Harris’s murder and child cruelty charges.

For him to enter the car … when the child had been dead and rigor mortis had set in, and the testimony is the stench in the car was overwhelming at that point in time, that he — in spite of that — got in the car and drove it for some distance before he took any action to check on the welfare of his child, I find there is probable cause for the two charges contained in the warrant.

Cox also denies bail for Harris.

Police: suspicious internet searches

Cobb County, Georgia, police Detective Phil Stoddard testifies that before Cooper’s death, Harris had visited a Reddit page called “child-free” and read four articles, He also allegedly searched how to survive in prison. Police also say Harris and his wife, Leanna Harris, told them they looked up how hot a car needed to be to kill a child.

Stoddard also says that five days before Cooper died, Ross Harris twice viewed a homemade public service announcement video in which a veterinarian demonstrates on video the dangers of leaving someone in a hot car. Leanna Harris also told police that she had recently seen a story on a state initiative aimed at reminding people not to leave children in cars and that it was a fear of hers.

Police: Father ‘sexting’ as son was dying

At a probable cause hearing Detective Phil Stoddard says Harris messaged six women, one of whom was underage, sending and receiving explicit texts and nude images from work while his 22-month-old was dying.

Harris’ attorney repeatedly objected Stoddard’s testimony but the judge overruled. Stoddard also said that Harris may also be charged with felony sexual exploitation of a minor and misdemeanor illegal contact with a minor.

28 Jun, 2014

Calls in to funeral, wife defends

Harris calls in to his son’s funeral in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, from Cobb County Jail, and speaks to the entire auditorium on speakerphone.

Thank you for everything you’ve done for my boy. Good life. (Inaudible) No words to say. Just horrible. (Inaudible) I’m just sorry I can’t be there.

He also tells everyone he loves them and starts crying again.

Leanna Harris replies to her husband:

First of all Ross, I love you and I’m doing this for you, OK. Two years ago when we welcomed a 6-pound, 8-ounce perfect baby into the world, this never crossed my mind.

Later she says to the congregation:

Am I angry with Ross? Absolutely not. It has never crossed my mind. Ross is and was and will be, if we have more children, a wonderful father. Ross is a wonderful daddy and leader for our household. Cooper meant the world to him.

She follows her son’s casket out of the church, still on the phone with her husband and tells him she loves him before hanging up. The Home Depot charity, the Homer Fund, pays for the funeral.

Supporters raise $22,000

A profile set up on YouCaring.com in support of Harris raises more than $22,000 for the Harris family. Heather McCullar, who set it up, says:

Please don’t listen to the media. It just upsets me to watch it. The family will speak when they can.

Search warrants

According to search warrants from a Cobb County magistrate court, investigators seized a number of items from the Justin’s home: an iPhone 5, Hyundai car, home laptop computer, computer tower, a “Google chrome cast Internet searcher” and other electronic devices. The Cobb County Police Chief says:

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 say the purpose of the search warrants was to find blood, DNA, writings and photographs relating to child abuse, child neglect, homicide to children and cruelty to children.

Researched hot-car deaths

Harris acknowledges to police that he researched child deaths inside hot vehicles on the Internet. According to a sworn statement in the warrant from a police officer,

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. Justin stated that he was fearful that this could happen.

Can’t attend funeral


Cobb County jail officials announce that Harris will not be allowed to attend his 22-month-old son’s funeral. Jail policy states that Harris must be kept locked up without bond.

We do not transport inmates to funeral services. That’s it. That’s our policy.

25 Jun, 2014

Death ‘consistent with homicide’

The Cobb County medical examiner’s office issues a statement after an autopsy is performed on Harris’s son, saying the child’s cause of death was:

consistent with hyperthermia and the investigative information suggests the manner of death is homicide.

The medical examiner will make an official ruling on the cause of death when the toxicology tests are completed.

19 Jun, 2014

Pleads not guilty

Harris pleads not guilty to felony murder and cruelty to children charges. He is held without bond at the Cobb County Jail. A bond hearing is set for July 15.

18 Jun, 2014

Son dies in hot car


Cooper HarrisAccording to police, Harris stops for breakfast at a fast-food restaurant and afterward straps his 22-month-old son, Cooper,  into a rear-facing child restraint seat on his SUV’s back seat. He drives the Home Depot corporate office where he works as a web designer. Instead of taking his son to on-site day-care, as he would usually do, he leaves Cooper in the car seat.

He returns to the car during his lunchbreak, opening the driver’s side door to put something inside, but fails to notice Cooper.

After work, around 4:16 p.m., he drove away from work. A few miles away, he stops the car at a shopping center and calls for help. Witnesses tell police they heard “squealing tires, and the vehicle came to a stop,” Harris got out of the car yelling,

Oh, my God, what have I done?

According to police, Harris stood there with a blank look on his face. When a witness told Harris his son needed CPR, Harris went to the other side of his vehicle and made a phone call, apparently to tell someone his son was dead, a witness told police.

Harris does not call 911, and when an officer tells him to get off his phone, he refuses and says, “F*** you” before an officer takes his phone and handcuffs him. Harris tells police he can’t reach anyone on his telephone, but phone records show that Harris made three calls after he discovered his son’s body, one between him and his employer lasted six minutes. However another witness says :

He was crying. He was hollering. Oh, my God! Oh, my God, my son is dead!”

What's this? This is an unbiased just-the-facts news timeline ('newsline') about Justin Ross Harris, created by Newslines' contributors. Help us grow it by finding and summarising news. Learn more