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Georgia man charged with murder in son's car-seat death fired from job

Justin Harris
Justin Harris

By David Beasley

ATLANTA (Reuters) - A suburban Atlanta man jailed on charges he murdered his 22-month-old son by intentionally leaving the child strapped in an overheated car to die has been fired from his job at Home Depot Inc, the company said Thursday.

A spokeswoman for the Atlanta-based home improvement chain confirmed that Justin Ross Harris, 33, of Marietta, Georgia, had been terminated from the company, which had employed him as a computer specialist.

But the spokeswoman, Catherine Woodling, declined to give a reason for the company's action.

“We don't discuss the details of individual personnel matters,” Woodling said.

At a preliminary court hearing last week, a police detective testified that Harris was exchanging nude pictures over the Internet with women other than his wife while his son, Cooper, was strapped in a car seat on June 18 in the Home Depot parking lot, dying from the heat.

Harris told police he forgot to drop Cooper off at the daycare center on his way to work and only discovered the child after he left the office that afternoon and was driving to a movie theater.

Prosecutors, however, said Harris deliberately left Cooper in the car to perish because he wanted to live a “child free life.” A judge ordered Harris to remain jailed without bond, ruling there was probable cause for felony murder and child cruelty charges against him.

Harris’ wife, Leanna, has not been charged in the case, but Atlanta attorney Lawrence Zimmerman confirmed to Reuters Thursday that he has been retained to represent her. Zimmerman declined further comment.

Cobb County police spokesman Michael Bowman would neither confirm or deny on Thursday that Leanna Harris is a suspect.

“She has been interviewed, and this case is still active and fluid,” Bowman said.

Authorities said Cooper Harris died of heat stroke. Results of toxicology tests on the child were normal, police said Thursday.

(Reporting in Atlanta by David Beasley; Editing by Steve Gorman and Eric Walsh)

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