Justin Ross Harris, already facing a murder trial for the death of his son, was indicted Friday on eight new counts involving sexually exploiting underage girls.
The charges stem from the investigation into the June 2014 death of Harris’ 22-month-old son, Cooper. The former Home Depot web developer, accused of intentionally leaving Cooper inside a hot car, will be tried separately on these latest charges.
“We are concerned that the timing of this indictment is a calculated maneuver to inflame public opinion against Ross on the eve of jury selection,” Harris’ attorney, Maddox Kilgore, said in a statement. Harris’ trial is scheduled to begin April 11.
Harris is accused of possessing lewd photographs of two underage girls, sending nude photos to those girls and one other and engaging in sexually explicit chats with all three. The eight-count indictment includes two counts of sexual exploitation of children and six of disseminating harmful material to a minor.
Cobb County District Attorney Vic Reynolds said the new charges stemmed from “advances in electronic forensic analysis in conjunction with recent interviews of newly discovered victims.”
Harris' lawyer, however, said the charges represent nothing new.
“After more than a 20-month investigation into every imaginable detail of Ross Harris’ life, this new indictment alleges no acts of cruelty, no deprivation, no abuse, nor any neglect of Cooper,” Kilgore said. “The content and timing of this indictment confirms the absence of such evidence, and it signals the state’s desperation to convict Ross of the worst mistake any of us as parents could make.”
Reynolds said the latest indictment could not wait.
“Had the state delayed charging any further, prosecution of some of the charges would have barred by the statute of limitations,” he said.