Evidence

Dad faces controversial felony murder case in death of toddler son in hot car


All the evidence hasn’t yet been made public in a controversial felony murder case against a Georgia father whose young son died last week after being left in a child seat in a hot vehicle, police say.

Justin Ross Harris, 33, was also charged with child endangerment, in a prosecution that ignited protests including an online change.org protest petition. It asks the Cobb County district attorney to drop the charges in a case that seemingly involves a tragic mistake by a now-grieving father, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and CNN. The station provides a copy of the criminal warrant (PDF) in the case.

But police say they charged Harris for good reason.

“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,” said Cobb County Police Chief John Houser in a Wednesday media statement. “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.”

Harris was charged within hours after he found his son dead in a rear-facing child seat in the back of his Hyundai Tucson at the end of his work day. He says he forgot to drop the 22-month-old off at daycare before proceeding to his job at a Home Depot.

However, “Within moments of the first responders getting to the scene and doing their job,” asking questions, “some of those answers were not making sense to the first responders,” Sgt. Dana Pierce Pierce told reporters last week. “I’ve been in law enforcement for 34 years. What I know about this case shocks my conscience as a police officer, a father and a grandfather.”

Attorney H. Maddox Kilgore is reportedly representing Harris. He did not respond to repeated requests for comment by CNN.

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