The mother of a Georgia toddler who died after sitting for seven hours in a hot SUV told those gathered at her son’s funeral Saturday that she loves her husband and isn’t angry at him despite the murder charge he faces in connection with their boy’s death, CNN reported.
“Am I angry with Ross?” Leanna Harris said during the service in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. “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.”
Justin Ross Harris, 33, pleaded not guilty to charges of murder and second-degree child cruelty in the June 18 death of his 22-month-old son, Cooper Harris. Police said Harris told them he forgot to drop his son at the day-care center before going to work. According to a search warrant, Harris told police he used the Internet to research child deaths related to temperature inside vehicles, CNN reported Saturday.
“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 a sworn statement in the warrant from a police officer. “Justin stated that he was fearful that this could happen.”
TheBlaze reported on June 25 that a law enforcement source in the same Georgia county where the death occurred reportedly told Fox 5 News that investigators confiscated Harris’ work computer at Home Depot following his arrest and discovered an Internet search about how long it would take for an animal to die in a hot car. The news station could not confirm when the search was done.
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According to search warrants from a Cobb County magistrate court, investigators seized a number of items from the father’s home: An iPhone 5, Hyundai car, home laptop computer, computer tower, a “Google chrome cast Internet searcher” and other electronic devices.
Cobb County Police said 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.
Harris sits in jail without bond, with an appearance before a judge set for next Thursday. Police in Cobb County, part of metro Atlanta, have been tight-lipped and haven’t said whether what they found on the computer is one of the reasons they arrested Harris.
Harris couldn’t leave Cobb County Jail to attend his son’s funeral, but he called in and addressed the attendees on speakerphone, CNN reported.
“Thank you for everything you’ve done for my boy,” he said. “Good life. (Inaudible) No words to say. Just horrible. (Inaudible) I’m just sorry I can’t be there.” He then told the crowd he loved them and started crying again.
Then Leanna Harris spoke: “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.”
Leanna Harris said her faith is sustaining her and her husband through the loss of their son, CNN noted.
[sharequote align=”center”]”First of all Ross, I love you and I’m doing this for you, OK?”[/sharequote]
“Some of you might wonder how I’m even standing here today. I wonder that myself, and I asked myself that question over and over the last week,” she said.
“I should be crumpled into a heap of snot and tears into the dirt, but the Lord is holding me up right now. He is holding Ross up. And he is holding both of us up when we can’t hold ourselves up.”
Harris followed her son’s casket out of the church and remained on the phone with her husband through it, saying “I love you” before hanging up.
On the day his son died, police said Harris stopped for breakfast at a fast-food restaurant and afterward strapped Cooper into a rear-facing child restraint seat that was upon his SUV’s back seat. Harris then drove to work, a Home Depot corporate office, where he works as a Web designer.
Typically Harris took Cooper to on-site day care facility, but police said Harris’ son was left in the vehicle this time.
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During his lunch break, he returned to his car, opening the driver’s side door to put something inside, police said.
After work, around 4:16 p.m., the 33-year-old father got in his car and drove away. A few miles away, he stopped the car at a shopping center and called for help.
When it became clear Cooper was dead, Harris was so inconsolable police had to restrain him.
“What have I done?” he wailed as he tried to resuscitate the boy.