Did a Father Intend to Kill Son, Leaving the Boy in a Hot Car?

Did a Father Intend to Kill Son, Leaving the Boy in a Hot Car?

Did a dad leave his son inside a hot SUV with the intent of killing him? Justin Harris claims he forgot to drop 22-month-old Cooper at day care on his way to work at a Home Depot near Atlanta.

He says he only realized the child was in the car as he was driving home seven hours later. By then, Cooper was dead. But new information is raising disturbing questions about what might have happened.

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A new criminal complaint charging Justin with felony murder alleges he returned to the car during his lunch hour “To place an object in the vehicle. Then [he] closed the door and left the car, re-entering his place of business."

Nancy Grace, whose HLN show out of Atlanta airs nightly at 8 p.m. said Justin’s story is riddled with inconsistencies.

She told INSIDE EDITION, “What the police are doing is saying is that upon their investigation his story no longer makes sense. Why this day of all days was the father taking the child to day care? During the whole day, the mom did not call and say, 'Hey, did you take Cooper to day care? Everything okay?' Did they really go seven or eight hours without communicating about the children?”

The criminal complaint also reveals that 33-year-old Justin and his son stopped for breakfast just ten minutes before pulling into the Home Depot parking lot.  

The Atlanta Journal Constitution quotes an investigator saying, "The father knew the child had been left in the vehicle."

A witness, Dale Hamilton, at the shopping mall where the child was found was also skeptical, saying, "I'm not sure how someone could forget that they've got a child in the back seat, especially the way that car seat was positioned in the car."

Pediatrician Dr. Jen Trachtenberg said any child left in a baking hot car for hours runs risk of death from heat stroke.
She said, "All of their organs start to shut down. So it is their heart, their lungs, their kidneys start to not function properly."

When news of Cooper’s death first broke, there was a wave of sympathy for Justin. An online petition asking for him to be freed has gathered 11,000 signatures. But that was before the stunning news that police now believe it could have been deliberate.

Grace said, "They know more about the case than we do and they don't believe his story anymore."

Justin Harris pled not guilty to all charges.