Petition urges DA to drop charges against father
by Haisten Willis
June 21, 2014 04:00 AM | 5816 views | 14 14 comments | 11 11 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Justin Ross Harris
Justin Ross Harris
slideshow
CUMBERLAND — Not everyone agrees Justin Ross Harris should be charged with murder.

Harris, 33, of Marietta, has been charged with felony murder after police say he strapped his 22-month-old son in a hot car for at least seven hours, leading to the toddler’s death Wednesday.

Harris was charged with cruelty to children and, because the child was pronounced dead at the scene, with felony murder, according to Cobb District Attorney Vic Reynolds.

But the 6,354 who had signed the change.org petition as of Friday night disagree, calling the death a “horrible accident.”

“The father loved his son immensely,” reads the petition. “These were very loving parents who are devastated. Justin already has to live with a punishment worse than death.

“Sending what’s left of his family into bankruptcy to defend him against these charges is only bringing more hardship to a family that will never recover from the loss of a child. There is nothing to indicate that the father intentionally left his child in the car, so a charge of murder is not appropriate.”

Organizers set a goal of 5,000 signatures.

Several signees added their own comments, such as Brandon Cozart, who listed his address as College Station, Texas.

“I’ve known Ross for over 10 years and I can’t imagine what he’s going through right now,” Cozart wrote.

“What I do know is that he is a man of integrity with a gigantic heart and that he loves his family more than anything. This was a terrible, tragic accident, not a willful act with intent to harm Cooper. These charges are asinine.”

Sarah Mosley, of Mableton, was among many saying Harris will suffer enough without jail time.

“This is unjust,” she wrote. “There is no way to prove a motive in the short 20 hours that you took. This man’s life is destroyed. Charging him with murder for a tragic accident and ruining what’s left of his family is not just.”

People are also showing their support for Harris and his family by donating money online at yourcaring.com.

The page for the family, set up by a woman named Heather McCullar, had already raised more than $14,000 as of Friday night.

The description says all donations go directly to the family through a trust at the Alabama Credit Union.

Harris remains in Cobb jail without bond.

Although police have yet to release the child’s name, neighbors and social media websites appearing to belong to his parents confirm his name was Cooper Harris.

Reynolds said Thursday the charge of felony murder does not necessarily involve intent.

“Felony murder is where you commit a felony crime,” Reynolds said. “My goal may not have been to kill you, but the results of my actions caused the death.”

The petition signers weren’t the only ones surprised by the felony murder charge.

Tom Browning, a local attorney and chair of the Downtown Marietta Development Authority, said most of the lawyers he’s spoken with were caught off guard by the murder charge.

“I have never heard of a murder charge on something like that, on what I’d call a pure parental accident,” Browning said.

“This is a double tragedy, the boy that died and now the family’s grieving. I hope he can get out of jail and go to the funeral.”

Browning said he has not heard of a murder charge like this being brought forth without intent.

The maximum sentence for felony murder is life in prison. Reynolds said previously the investigation is in the early stages and the charges could change or, if the death is ruled to be purely accidental, there could be no charges.

Reynolds said the case will be handed to his office once police finish their investigation and he hopes it progresses “as expeditiously as possible.”

Anyone with information about the case is asked to call (770) 499-3945.

A link to the petition can be found at http://www.change.org/petitions/cobb-county-district-attorney-drop-murder-charges-against-justin-harris-for-son-s-accidental-death.

Those who wish to donate money to the family can do so at: http://www.youcaring.com/memorial-fundraiser/cooper-harris-memorial-fund/193175#sthash.jwu0Kp0j.dpuf.

— Emily Boorstein contributed to this article

Comments
(14)
Comments-icon Post a Comment
Cobbian
|
June 24, 2014
More and more morons who know NOTHING about the case but act like they know more than the DA. When the truth comes out about this vile "father" will all you dunces be back here apologizing to Mr. Reynolds?
rjm35126
|
June 23, 2014
They have EVIDENCE or he wouldn't have been charged AND denied bond by the judge.

One person mentioned he was doing internet searches on how long it would take to kill a child in a hot car. If they find that on his computer, he is toast.

I was initially outraged but the more that comes out, the more I think evidence backs them up.

Nobody is going to risk their career on a fake murder charge.

Also,The judge would have gave him bond if the evidence was weak.
anonymous
|
June 22, 2014
Reynolds is being completely irreponsible to the entire nation by being so tight lipped about this one. We all know that Reynolds knows this very moment how this child died. Reynolds is absolutely, completely grandstanding to the entire nation.
uhh wrong
|
June 23, 2014
He doesn't get the case until the police hand it over and he did not charge the dad. The police department did. Its saddens me that citizens know so little about how their government operates. This is as basic as it get...police get bad guy, bad guy to jail, da then gets case, modifies or continues charges, present to grand jury to validate or modify and then finally to a superior court judge. Got it now??? Lets fire Santa Clause too, he has just as much to do with this case as the DA at this point.
anonymous
|
June 23, 2014
Hey uhh wrong...why did Vic Reynolds charge this guy before (as Reynolds acknowledged) the investigation was ever completed?

It troubles me that citizens (particularly older folks who still vote) are so willing to swallow as gospel whatever line of BS the district attorney and police decide to spout...and without question.

Cobbian
|
June 24, 2014
And it saddens me that dumb young idiots like you think you know more than everybody else. When you are proven wrong here in a couple days I'm sure you will put your little tail between your legs and go criticize something else. Typical Millenial.
Lee Fitch
|
June 21, 2014
Here is the deal...the citizens (voters) of Cobb County can fire Vic Reynolds in two years. And thats what needs to happen if he continues this foolishness.
Cobbian
|
June 24, 2014
Can we fire you when it turns out that You are wrong?
Watcher...
|
June 21, 2014
DA's crave murder cases!
Guido5
|
June 21, 2014
The next petition should be to start disbarment proceedings against Reynolds.

He's starting to look like the prosecutor who went after the Duke lacrosse team.
reprehensible charge
|
June 21, 2014
I was appalled to read that this man had been charged with murder. It was a horrible accident, a real tragedy, something that none of us ever wants to happen to us. But he did not "murder" his son. These charges should be dropped. I am done with Reynolds. He is wrong.
Unbelievable!
|
June 21, 2014
Seven hours. The child was strapped into a car seat for SEVEN HOURS! Can you imagine what must have gone through that little boy's mind as he slowly died, believing his daddy would be back any minute to get him!
Dreamyk
|
June 21, 2014
There is more to this story, apparently, than parental negligence. When a career police officer says he is shocked by what he knows about the case, you can bet it's not a simple case of Dad forgetting his son was in the back seat.
You dont understand
|
June 21, 2014
What you do not understand it that Reynolds did not charge anyone. The sole police officer of the Cobb County Police Department makes that call. He then meets with a Magistrate and the Magistrate judge approves the warrant. Being charged with murder only requires a felony act that results in death, in this case cruelty to children. The whole point in the police in charging a person is so the community can decide his fate. The police would be wrong to do nothing, how would that have played out on the news. This whole thing makes me sick to my stomach but they do have to charge him, I would have went for involuntary manslaughter, i.e. you killed someone but did not mean to do it, give him 1st offender then wipe his record after five years, but that is just me.
*We welcome your comments on the stories and issues of the day and seek to provide a forum for the community to voice opinions. All comments are subject to moderator approval before being made visible on the website but are not edited. The use of profanity, obscene and vulgar language, hate speech, and racial slurs is strictly prohibited. Advertisements, promotions, and spam will also be rejected. Please read our terms of service for full guides