The suburban Atlanta father whose toddler died in June after being left in a hot vehicle was indicted yesterday on murder charges. The New York times reported that the indictment against Justin Ross Harris by a Cobb County grand jury includes a charge of malice murder, for which a death sentence can be sought. Harris, who was arrested hours after his 22-month-old son, Cooper, died on June 18, has been held without bond. Cobb County District Attorney D. Victor Reynolds said his office would decide this month whether to pursue the death penalty.
Maddox Kilgore, Harris’ attorney, criticized what he said was the shifting “maze of theories” that the authorities had put forward to explain the defendant's behavior. “The truth is, Cooper's death was a horrible, gut-wrenching accident.” The indictment came after an onslaught of sordid revelations and wide swings in public opinion about the actions of Harris, whose supporters say he made a heart-rending error when he left Cooper in his car seat while he worked a corporate job at Home Depot. In the days after his arrest, Harris received support from thousands of people who signed online petitions that accused the authorities of overreacting to a mistake. In court filings and testimony, authorities outlined what they said was a pattern of conduct showing that Harris had abandoned Cooper in a quest for a “child-free life.” A researcher at San Jose State University said 26 children who have died this year in a hot car.