ATLANTA (AP) — More than two months after his son’s death in a hot car, a Georgia man who prosecutors say sat in his office exchanging nude photos with women while his son languished for hours was charged with murder on Thursday.
A Cobb County grand jury indicted Justin Ross Harris on multiple charges, including malice murder, felony murder and cruelty to children. The malice murder charge indicates that prosecutors intend to prove Harris intentionally left his son Cooper in the hot car to die.
The eight-count indictment also includes charges related to sexually explicit exchanges prosecutors say Harris had with an underage girl.
“Today was another step in a long process,” Cobb County District Attorney Vic Reynolds said. “We look forward to the case running its course and, ultimately, justice being served in this matter.”
Harris will be arraigned in the next few weeks, and Reynolds said he will decide before then whether to seek the death penalty.
Harris has been in jail since his arrest the day his 22-month-old son died. Harris’ lawyer, Maddox Kilgore, is set to hold a news conference later Thursday.
Harris has told police he was supposed to drive his son to day care the morning of June 18 but drove to work without realizing that the child was strapped into a car seat in the back.
Police have said the toddler was left in the vehicle for about seven hours on a day when temperatures in the Atlanta area reached at least into the high 80s. The medical examiner’s office has said the boy died of hyperthermia — essentially overheating — and has called his death a homicide.
The investigation is still ongoing, Reynolds said.
“The evidence in the case has led us to this point,” he said. “Whether or not it leads us to anyone else remains to be answered.”
Prosecutors have questioned Harris’ wife, Leanna, and she has hired a criminal defense attorney, but no charges have been filed against her.