Warrants in Ga. hot car death focus on electronic trail

Warrants in Ga. hot car death focus on electronic trail

Credit: Kelly J. Huff, AP

Justin Ross Harris, the father of a toddler who died after police say he was left in a hot car for about seven hours, wipes his eye as he sits during his bond hearing in Cobb County Magistrate Court, July 3, 2014, in Marietta, Ga.

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by Julie Wolfe, WXIA-TV, Atlanta via USA TODAY

khou.com

Posted on July 7, 2014 at 4:18 PM

MARIETTA, Ga. — A new series of search warrants in the case of a 22-month-old Georgia boy who died while in a hot car last month show a focus on the electronic trail leading up to his death.

The warrants made public by the Magistrate Court of Cobb County on Monday morning show Cobb County Police investigators looking into electronic devices found inside Justin Ross Harris' 2011 Hyundai Tuscan. A thumb drive, an external hard drive, a SD card, and a DVD-R were all taken into police custody.

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Harris, 33, is charged with felony murder and second-degree child cruelty in the death of his son, Cooper. He claims that he forgot to drop his son off at daycare before heading to work on June 18. Cooper spent nearly seven hours in the SUV as temperatures rose to 88 degrees, according to warrants.

According to the warrants, all of the items will be searched for "information pertaining to finances, credit card debt, business information, life insurance, emails/communication regarding child, wife, and family issues, photos/videos of the child to show development, information about car seat searches, searches regarding car deaths, communications with other people on the days leading up to and the incident date, information on life insurance policies."

A warrant for an iPhone 5 already in police custody also was included. Cobb County Police expect results of those warrants to take some time. The warrants say results will take 10 days or more because of the high volume of data.

A separate warrant confirmed information mentioned during Harris' probable cause hearing Thursday. During that hearing, Cobb County Detective Phil Stoddard testified Harris failed to tell police about his trip back to his car during his lunch break on the day Cooper died.

After lunch, Harris and two co-workers ran an errand to Home Depot to buy light bulbs. The newer warrant was issued for Harris' home for "the inspection of the lights in and around the residence, if there are a sufficient amount of light bulbs in storage to determine if there was a need to purchase light bulbs."

Under cross-examination Thursday, Stoddard said they discovered there were lights out in a bathroom vanity.

Medical records for Harris and Cooper also will become a part of the investigation. Warrants served to Kaiser Permanente request all medical records for Harris for evidence of his health, medications and medical problems. During the hearing, Harris' defense attorney said Harris was almost completely deaf in his right ear.

The warrant for Cooper's medical records is looking for evidence of the child's health, medical conditions, medications, growth and development.

None of the warrants released Monday mention Cooper's mother, Leanna Harris. Attention had shifted to the boy's mother because Stoddard testified she didn't rush to her child — or even ask to see him. Leanna only wanted to know about her husband.

Both parents have admitted to researching hot car deaths online.

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