The autopsy conducted on 22-month-old Cooper Harris, of Marietta, concluded that homicide was the manner of death.
"The chain of events that occurred in this case does not point toward simple negligence and evidence will be presented to support this allegation," said Cobb Police Chief John Houser in a statement
The police department continued further in a separate release: “The Cobb County Medical Examiner’s Office is waiting for toxicology test results before making an official ruling as to the cause and manner of death. However, the Cobb County Medical Examiner believes the cause of death is consistent with hyperthermia and the investigative information suggests the manner of death is homicide.”
Hyperthermia, or elevated body temperature, happens when an individual’s temperature rises and stays above the normal 98.6 degrees. On June 18 when the child was left inside the SUV in the Cumberland area, temperatures reached in the low 90s outside.
A new warrant filed on Wednesday changed a charge against the Marietta father accused of leaving his son in the hot vehicle from first- to second-degree child cruelty.
Justin Ross Harris, 33, is also charged with felony murder in the death of the toddler. While still a felony, the second-degree cruelty charge implies that authorities do not think there was criminal intent.
In a case that has drawn national attention as to whether the felony charges against the the elder Harris are appropriate, police have asked for patience from the public as the investigation continues.
“I understand that tragic accidents similar to this one do occur and in most cases the parent simply made a mistake that cost them the life of their child,” said Houser. "This investigation, although similar in nature to others, must be weighed on its own merit and the facts that lead our detectives to charge the father must be presented at the appropriate time during the judicial process."
Harris, who has pleaded not guilty to the charges, is being held in the county jail without bail. His next appearance in county magistrate court has been moved up from July 15 to July 3, when the issue of his bond will be addressed in the probable cause hearing.
Harris will not be in Tuscaloosa, Ala., on Saturday for his son’s funeral.
A YouCaring.com fund set up to assist the Harris family had raised more than $22,000 as of Wednesday night.