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Wife in Georgia hot-car death case has attorney

Published:   |   Updated: July 11, 2014 at 09:24 AM

The Associated Press

ATLANTA – The wife of a Georgia man facing charges after their son was left in a hot car and died has retained a criminal defense attorney for herself.

Atlanta attorney Lawrence Zimmerman said he now represents Leanna Harris.

Her husband, Justin Ross Harris, faces murder and child cruelty charges in the June 18 death of their 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 and going to work.

Leanna Harris has not been charged with any crimes in the death. Asked about his role in the case Friday, Zimmerman told The Associated Press he could not comment further.

“We practice only criminal defense which means that our clients are represented by criminal defense specialists, not a general practice lawyer,” Zimmerman’s website states.

Meanwhile, the online payment site PayPal says it will give refunds to people who donated to a defunct fundraising campaign for the family.

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.

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 had 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.

Cobb County police Detective Phil Stoddard testified in a court hearing last week that Harris was using a computer to exchange nude photos with women the day his son died. The father had also viewed some websites that advocated against having children and others that detailed how people die in hot cars, the detective testified.

Police said results of a toxicology report on the toddler have come back with negative results, but officials won’t specify which substances they tested for. Toxicology tests typically are used to detect foreign substances such as drugs in a person’s system.

Cobb County police spokesman Mike Bowman said Friday that authorities aren’t discussing further details of the test results.

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