PayPal to refund donors in Georgia hot car death case

Justin Ross Harris during his bond hearing, July 3, 2014 in Cobb County Magistrate Court. CBS Atlanta

ATLANTA -- The online payment site PayPal says it will give refunds to people who donated to a fundraising campaign for a Georgia family whose toddler died in a hot car.

PayPal will soon be issuing refunds to customers who used the service to donate to the campaign at YouCaring.com, where a total of more than $22,000 was given, PayPal spokeswoman Adriana Higuera said in a late Thursday statement to The Associated Press.

Justin Ross Harris faces murder and child cruelty charges in the June 18 death of his son, 22-month-old Cooper Harris. The father told Cobb County police he left the boy in the SUV for about seven hours after forgetting to drop him off at day care at going to work.

YouCaring.com is aware of "the sensitive matter involving the Harris family" and does not take sides in legal matters, spokesman Michael Blasco said.

"The campaign was recently removed from the site so that the controversy and debate surrounding the Harris matter did not become a distraction to the millions of other donors participating in a wide variety of active fundraisers currently taking place in our community," Blasco said in a statement.

Harris is a native of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, and moved to Georgia in 2012 to work for Home Depot.

Home Depot spokeswoman Catherine Woodling confirmed Thursday that Harris no longer works for the company but would not say when he was terminated. She said he'd been on leave without pay since his arrest.

Harris' defense attorneys have portrayed him as a caring father who never intended to harm his child and made a horrible mistake.

Police alleged that Harris was "sexting" a 17-year-old girl while his son died in the hot car, and that he searched the Internet for "how to survive in prison" and had looked at websites that advocated living a "child-free" life.

Warrants released last week alleged that Harris told family how to cash in on life insurance policies on the boy shortly after his death.

Meanwhile, Harris' wife retained a criminal defense attorney for herself. Atlanta attorney Lawrence Zimmerman said he now represents Leanna Harris.

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