“As time went on from the initial response to the scene, it has since become very apparent that this investigation is going in a different direction,” said Cobb Police Sgt. Dana Pierce.
The investigation of Marietta’s Justin Ross Harris, 33, continues. Police say Harris left his toddler son, Cooper Harris, in a hot car while working as a web developer at The Home Depot headquarters on June 18.
Pierce said that the initial case revolved around a heat-related medical condition. He said that’s still part of the focus, but not all of it.
“There is so much more that has shed light on what’s going on,” Pierce said. “What I learned from investigators shocked my conscience.”
Pierce did not elaborate on any details of what he’s learned, stressing the ongoing nature of the investigation.
The Cobb Medical Examiner’s office confirmed Monday the autopsy of Cooper Harris has been completed, though it isn’t known when it will be released.
“As of right now, we’re not releasing any information,” said Mike Gerhard, operations manager for the Cobb Medical Examiner.
According to Pierce, the autopsy should be released by the end of this week.
“We expect this coming week the Cobb County Medical Examiner’s office to determine, along with input from Cobb County Police Department’s Crimes Against Persons Unit, to really validate the manner and cause of death,” Pierce said. “Our two agencies will be working together to confirm that.”
Harris has been 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.
“Felony murder is where you commit a felony crime,” Reynolds has said. “My goal may not have been to kill you, but the results of my actions caused the death.”
After being denied bond June 19, Harris will remain in jail at least until his next court appearance, which is scheduled for July 15.
Though Cobb police originally reported Harris had dropped off another child before going to work, Pierce confirmed Monday Harris only had one child.
“That was the information relayed to me by detectives (at the scene) and that has turned out to be false,” Pierce said.
A Change.org petition urging Reynolds to drop the charges against Harris had drawn 10,532 supporters as of Monday evening and a YouCaring.com account has raised $20,258 for the family.
Some in the legal community, such as Marietta attorney Tom Browning, have also said they were shocked by the charges.
But Pierce’s words imply the public doesn’t know all of the important details about the case.
“There is much more to this,” he said.