COBB COUNTY, Ga. — The mother of a Georgia toddler who died in a sweltering SUV told a crowd at her son’s funeral she’s “absolutely not” angry with her husband, who has been charged with murder in the child’s death.
“Am I angry with Ross?” Leanna Harris said at the funeral 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 children.”
This was the first time she has spoken publicly since June 18, when her husband, Justin Ross Harris, was charged with murder and second-degree child cruelty in the death of his 22-month-old son, Cooper Harris. He has pleaded not guilty.
Police said Harris, 33, told them he forgot to drop his son at the day-care center before going to work. The boy died after he was left seven hours in the back of an SUV.
Earlier in the funeral ceremony at University Church of Christ, Harris called from the Cobb County Jail outside Atlanta, where he’s being held without bond, and spoke to the crowd by speaker phone.
“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.”
Then Leanna Harris spoke.
“First of all Ross, I love you and I’m doing this for you, OK?” she said. “This is not where I expected to be here today. Two years ago when we welcomed a 6-pound, 8-ounce perfect baby into the world. This never crossed my mind.
” A lot of you know how much I prayed for a child and how much I worried about never being able to have a child, but it happened in God’s time.”
After talking about happy memories of Cooper, she spoke about how her religion is helping her cope.
“I should be crumpled into a heap of snot and tears into the dirt, but the Lord is holding me up right now,” she said. “He is holding Ross up. And he is holding both of us up when we can’t hold ourselves up.”
Leanna Harris followed her son’s casket out of the church, still on the phone with her husband.
She said, “I love you,” before hanging up the phone.