Mother lists herself as a victim in Georgia hot car death

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Leanna Harris

MARIETTA, Ga. — The mother of a Georgia toddler who died after being left in a car for hours in the sweltering heat says she is a grieving mother caught up in “the storm around my family.”

“The rush to judgment by the public and the mainstream media has left me with little confidence in our legal system and our society,” Leanna Harris wrote in a victim impact statement obtained by CNN’s Victor Blackwell.

Police say Harris’ husband, Justin Ross Harris, left 22-month-old Cooper strapped into a car seat in his SUV for seven hours while he went to work on June 18.

Records show the temperature topped 92 that day, and police say it was 88 degrees when the boy was pronounced dead in a parking lot not far from his father’s workplace.

Justin Ross Harris has pleaded not guilty to charges of murder and child cruelty.

Leanna Harris has not been charged, but her attorney, Lawrence Zimmerman, said Friday that “she is concerned that the district attorney’s office may try to level a charge against her.”

Police said Harris behaved strangely in the days before and moments after the death of her son.

For example, one detective testified that she asked her husband, “Did you say too much?” in a police interview room after he was arrested, and that she also insisted to employees at her son’s day care that “Ross must have left him in the car,” when they told her Cooper had not been dropped off that morning. Police also said both parents conducted Internet searches about how hot a car needed to be to kill a child.

Zimmerman, however, wants the world to know his client is suffering.

The Atlanta defense attorney provided the victim impact statement that was filled out by Leanna Harris, “with help from my attorney,” she wrote.

The form, which lists Justin Ross Harris as the defendant and cruelty to children and second degree murder as the charges, asks the person filling it out to state their relationship to the victim of the particular crime.

Leanna Harris wrote, “self,” not the name of her son.

“Sure, she’s a victim,” Zimmerman said. “She’s lost a child. She’s a victim of public perception thinking that she had something to do with it.”

The Cobb County District Attorney’s Office said the forms are standard practice.

“We are required by the Crime Victim’s Bill of Rights to send those forms to all victims or a victim’s next of kin,” said Kim Isaza, spokeswoman for the Cobb County District Attorney’s Office.


  • CJ

    Am I the only one that thinks shes not freaking out enough? I know if my husband left my child in the car – accident or not – I would be beside myself, and I wouldn’t be claiming I was a victim, I would be focused on finding out why my child was left in the car. The fact that they both have computer evidence stating they looked up how how it needed to be in a car to kill a child is a big red flag, any good parent wouldn’t look that up because they wouldn’t even think about leaving a child in the car. Another thing that grabs my attention is the fact that she called the daycare and said that he must have left him in the car, if that was my child and they weren’t where they were supposed to be, I would be frantically searching for where he/she could possibly be – I wouldn’t jump straight to “oh he must have left him in the car”… that leads me to believe it was all planned out, and their plan is backfiring in their face. I personally hope they both get charged, something clearly isn’t right with this whole thing.

    • Scott

      Hey did your child just die? Think its time to give the woman some space? Have some respect. Do you want to be treated this way? FYI 14 hot car deaths in the US in 2014 alone. Know any other case? Think before judging!

  • missy

    so after the daycare called you don’t call your husband and ask why he didn’t drop him off…..proof she was in on it too

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