The mother of the Georgia toddler who died in a hot car in 2014 after his father, Justin Ross Harris, left him in his vehicle at work wants to end their marriage of almost a decade, according to court documents.
Leanna Harris does not cite a specific reason for her desire to divorce her husband, saying only that the “marriage is irretrievably broken.” Among her demands are that Ross Harris pay her attorneys’ fees and let her have the couple’s 2012 Toyota Camry. She makes no claim for the Hyundai SUV in which 22-month-old Cooper died.
The Cobb County Superior Court filed the complaint Monday. Leanna Harris submitted the divorce complaint on January 20. The pair wed on May 27, 2006.
Ross Harris left Cooper in a rear-facing car seat in the back of his SUV while he spent the day at work as a Web developer for Atlanta-based Home Depot. He normally dropped the boy off at day care.
The temperature topped 92 degrees Fahrenheit (33 Celsius) that day, which can make the heat inside a closed vehicle soar past 100 degrees quickly, and police testified during Ross Harris’ probable cause hearing that Cooper spent at least seven hours in the car.
The father is charged with murder.
Police have released search warrants showing that Ross Harris searched the Internet for information on child deaths in hot vehicles. Leanna Harris told authorities that she, too, researched such deaths, according to a police affidavit. She has never been charged in the case.
Though the divorce paperwork says Leanna and Ross Harris separated “on or about” June 18, 2014, the day Cooper died, Leanna Harris defended her husband in the days after the toddler’s death.
“Am I angry with Ross?” Leanna Harris said at the boy’s funeral in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. “Absolutely not. It has never crossed my mind. Ross is and was and will be, if we have more children, a wonderful father. Ross is a wonderful daddy and leader for our household. Cooper meant the world to him.”
Though Ross Harris told police he was happily married at the time of his son’s death, according to search warrants issued in the case, “evidence of inappropriate sexual communications with other women has been obtained.”
During a July 2014 hearing, Cobb County police Detective Phil Stoddard alleged that while Cooper was dying in his father’s SUV, Ross Harris messaged six women or girls, sending and receiving explicit texts — some including nude images — during work. Three of the recipients of Ross Harris’ messages were underage, the detective said in a January 2015 hearing.
Stoddard also said that messages between Leanna and Ross Harris indicated the two were having financial problems and that Leanna had made complaints about some purchases Ross had made.
He did not elaborate, but a search warrant said the two had “outstanding student and car loans,” and Ross Harris had incurred about $4,000 in credit card debt to acquire airline miles.