Mother of Cobb toddler stands behind husband charged with boy’s murder

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — In her first public comments since her son died 10 days ago in the backseat of the family’s SUV, Leanna Harris said she is not angry at her husband, who listened by phone from Cobb County Jail.

“Ross was and is a wonderful father,” Harris said to the applause of about 250 mourners at the funeral of the couple’s 22-month-old son Cooper.

» Listen to Breakdown Season 2 on the Justin Ross Harris case here.

Ross Harris, charged with felony murder and second-degree cruelty to children, thanked those who have supported him since his arrest June 18.

“(Cooper) never did anything to anyone,” he said, audibly choked up. “I’m just sorry I can’t be there.”

Ross Harris told Cobb police he mistakenly left Cooper in the family’s Hyundai Tucson for more than seven hours while he worked at Home Depot’s corporate offices in Cobb. But police have questioned whether Cooper’s death was accidental.

“The chain of events that occurred in this case do not point toward simple negligence and evidence will be presented to support this allegation,” Cobb Police Chief John Houser said in a statement released late Wednesday afternoon.

According to a search warrant made public just before the funeral, Ross Harris told police he had researched children dying in hot vehicles before Cooper’s death. But no information about the timing of Harris’ online searches was released.

The revelations have diminished public support for the 33-year-old IT specialist, but it was clear that those attending Cooper’s funeral at University Church of Christ in Tuscaloosa are standing behind him.

“There are so many kids in this world that aren’t loved,” said family friend Carl Jenkins. “(Cooper) knew he was loved.”

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