Cooper Harris

Justin Ross Harris: Parents claim father who left tot boy to die in scorching SUV didn’t do it on purpose, as new motions hearing nears

The parents of a Georgia man who left his toddler son in a hot vehicle to die are speaking out publicly for the first time since their son’s 2014 arrest.

As CrimeOnline previously reported, Harris still insists that his 1-year-old son Cooper’s death was an accident. Harris said he thought he dropped the little boy at daycare on the morning of June 18, 2014, before he headed to his job as a web developer at the Home Depot Support Center office in Vinings.

Police said Harris parked his vehicle, a Hyundai Tucson, in the Home Depot office parking lot, then walked into work at around 9:25 a.m. Harris returned to his SUV during lunch to place some items inside. Harris claimed he didn’t notice his son strapped inside his rear-facing car seat in the back.

Experts testified that the little boy was likely dead by noon, given that the temperatures inside the car had reached around 98 degrees at the time Harris opened the vehicle door.

When he returned to his office, Harris began sending explicit messages to an underage girl. During his trial, prosecutors presented evidence that Harris had carried on several affairs behind his wife’s back, sent sexual messages to at least six different women, and researched child car deaths online.

At around 4:15 p.m., Harris returned to his vehicle and drove off. Within a few minutes, he pulled into a mall parking lot, where he got out of the SUV and started shrieking for help. He later told police he forgot to drop off his son at daycare and didn’t notice him until he was leaving work.

Prosecutors, however, said Harris wanted to be free of responsibility and planned in advance how he would kill his son.

Harris was ultimately found guilty of murder and related charges in 2016, and sentenced to life in prison without parole.

Justin Ross Harris listens to jury selection during his trial at the Glynn County Courthouse in Brunswick, Ga., Monday, Oct. 3, 2016. Harris charged with murder after his toddler son died two years ago while left in the back of a hot SUV. (Stephen B. Morton/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP, Pool)

“Any of the family who you talk to would say that Ross Harris didn’t do that, not on purpose,” his mother, Evelyn Harris, told CBS 46 earlier this week. “I think it’s time somebody heard us and heard what we have to say about our son.”

Evelyn Harris’ husband sat in agreeance as his wife explained that their son asked them not to talk to any media during his arrest and trial. However, with motions for a new trial to start on December 14, Harris’ parents chose to speak out and show their support.

“We’re just afraid, but we’re holding out hope,” Evelyn Harris continued.”I would like to see Ross get a fair trial, fair. And honest, I want to see him walk in my back door before I die.”

Harris currently housed in a segregation unit at Macon State Prison, for his own protection, according to his attorney, Carlos Rodriguez.

“Prison changes you,” Rodriguez previously said. “He still has that optimism, still has his faith, still has his sharpness.”

“Ross is going to be another chapter in that book of wrongly convicted persons who is eventually found innocent.”

Harris pushed for a new trial on grounds that “prejudicial testimony” made it an “absolute impossibility” for him to receive a fair trial, according to AJC. Harris’ defense team argued that showing evidence of affairs and sexual addiction tainted the jury’s view of Harris.

The defense team also argued that the court stopped them from questioning the credibility of the police officers who testified during his trial.

Check back for updates.

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[Feature Photo: Cooper Harris/Handout]