A Georgia man who was charged with murder for the death of his son has received sympathy from the public. So far, 11,000 people have signed a petition to ask that he is not charged with murder and child cruelty, arguing that he already has to live with the horrible thought that only he is to blame for his son’s death. However, the police in Atlanta defend their decision to charge him to the full extent.
It is a difficult case, and will be difficult to face in a court of law. The jury is going to have a tough decision on its hands once all the evidence has been put forward, assuming that it goes that far.
The story started when Justin Ross Harris forgot to take his son to daycare. Instead, he went straight to work, and left the 22-month-old in the car, when it was 91 degrees outside. The poor toddler was left there for almost eight hours, and died of hyperthermia. The authorities were only called after 4pm, when Harris realized his mistake.
However, there were questions over the father’s story. Some of the circumstances were changing as soon as the first responders made it to the scene. While he would have been in shock, the circumstances should not have changed as much as they did. It led to the police wondering whether there was more to this story than the man was letting on.
The public rallied around the Georgia man with sympathy, deciding that he should not be charged with murder. It is a horrible thing to lose a child anyway, but to lose one because of a mistake like this is even worse.
Police continue to defend their decision for the charges. According to the department, Harris returned to his car during the day. He should have noticed that his son was in the car then. There are questions surrounding whether he actually went to check to see if his son was still alive or not.
Not all members of the public are sympathetic with the Georgia man’s situation. Many question how a parent could possibly leave a child in the car, especially for so long. There are also questions over why the daycare never called to find out where the toddler was, if that was his true destination.
The police have asked for the members of the public to avoid getting involved in this case. It is a distressing case already, and will be difficult for many members of the force, many of whom will be parents and grandparents, to go through all the evidence. It is now up to the judicial system to determine the full extent that the father will be charged, and then whether he will be found guilty.
This is certainly not a case most will want to sit on the jury for. While they will want justice for the toddler, they will also find it difficult to listen to all the evidence. However, nobody may have to if the sympathetic public get its way and the murder charges against the Georgia man are dropped.
Opinion by Alexandria Ingham