Wife of man who left toddler in hot car taking comfort from faith in God

Leanna Harris stoicism attributed to "grieving privately."

Published 16 July 2014  |  
HLN video screenshot
Leanna Harris

A lawyer for Justin Ross Harris, the Georgia man accused of intentionally leaving his toddler in a hot car, asked the public on Tuesday to give Harris' wife "time to grieve" the loss of her son.

Mr. Harris left 22-month-old Cooper in his SUV for seven hours on June 18. He allegedly forgot to drop the boy off at daycare, and proceeded with his work day. The temperature reached 92 degrees that Atlanta Wednesday, and the boy died in the car. Harris was charged with murder and second-degree child cruelty, and remains in jail.

Although Leanna Harris has not been charged, some have questioned why she asked her husband, "Did you say too much?" after learning he was charged with murder. Also, both parents researched child hot car deaths before Cooper's passing, and Mr. Harris visited a website that advocates not having children. The couple told police that they researched hot car deaths because they were afraid that it would happen to their son.

Cobb County Police Detective Phil Stoddard also said that although the father was inconsolable after discovering Cooper's lifeless body still in his car seat, he found his reaction to be insincere.

"Harris is walking around, rubbing his eyes, look like he's trying to hyperventilate," he testified. "Then, nothing. No tears, no real emotion."

Leanna has also been criticized for not publicly displaying emotion. Her husband's lawyer said that she is mourning privately.

"Leanna Harris is living every parent's nightmare – the child she bore and loved every moment of his life has died," Lawrence Zimmerman said in a statement.

"She mourns Cooper's death deeply, in her own private way. She takes comfort from a strong faith in God, but the loss is still overwhelming.

"Since his death, she has been unable to have that time of mourning that every bereaved parent needs. Please allow her the dignity to mourn her son in private."

Justin Ross Harris pled not guilty, and is being held without bail in Cobb County Jail.

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