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Mom in Ga. toddler's hot car death hires attorney

MARIETTA, Ga. - Investigators building a murder case against the Georgia dad who left his 22-month-old son in a hot car last month may also be targeting the toddler's mother, reports CBS affiliate WGCL.

According to the station, Leanna Harris - who has not been charged in the case - has hired an attorney. Her husband, 33-year-old Justin Harris, is accused of leaving the couple's son Cooper to die inside a hot SUV for over seven hours while he went to work at a Home Depot just outside Atlanta on June 18. He awaits trial on murder and child cruelty charges.

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Leanna Harris and Justin Harris with their son, Cooper Harris in an undated photograph.

CBS affiliate WGCL
Former prosecutor Ken Hodges spoke with WGCL about the possibility Leanna Harris could be charged. "Clearly she's a subject of investigation," Hodges said. "If she's part of the murder, then she's facing life in the penitentiary as well as, possibly, a death sentence."

Hodges also said Leanna Harris's decision to hire a lawyer made sense, given her situation. "If someone has legal problems they should have an attorney, especially in a situation like this," he said.

The station reports investigators have said the couple researched online how long a child could last inside a hot car and logged onto sites for people who don't want children. Investigators said Leanna Harris told them she feared for her son being left in a hot car. The couple had also taken out two life insurance policies on the 22-month-old.

"With her going on these websites regarding leaving children in cars and if she went on the other websites regarding being a childless parent, those would all be strong indicators that she was involved," Hodges told WGCL.

The online payment site PayPal announced Thursday it will give refunds to those who donated to a fundraising campaign for the family after Cooper's death. Spokeswoman Adriana Higuera said users who donated through YouCaring.com - where a total of over $22,000 was given to the family - will soon be getting their money back.

  • Crimesider Staff

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