The wife of a Georgia man charged with murdering his toddler by leaving the child in a hot car for hours this summer has passed a polygraph test, her lawyer said Monday.
So-called lie detector exams are not admissible in Georgia criminal court, and the test given to Leanna Harris was not court-sanctioned.
She has not been charged in the case.
But her attorney Lawrence Zimmerman said that a “licensed veteran polygrapher and former law enforcement officer with decades of experience conducting polygraphs” gave his client the test. He did not provide the full test questions and answers but gave reporters a select few questions and answers.
The only questions Zimmerman provided:
- Prior to June 18, did you know that your husband would leave your son in that vehicle?
- Did you plan or arrange with your husband to leave your son in that vehicle?
- Did your husband tell you that he was going to leave your son in that vehicle?
She answered no to those three questions, and the results showed that there was no deception in her answers, Zimmerman said.
CNN asked Cobb County criminal lawyer Phil Holloway, who is not involved in the case, what he thinks of polygraphs as a means to gauge the truth.
The tests are “garbage” and are used for “public relations purposes,” he said, to curry a more favorable opinion of a client with the public.
Zimmerman said in August that Leanna Harris is “concerned the district attorney’s office may try to level a charge against her.”
Police said Harris behaved strangely in the days before and moments after the death of her son.
One detective testified that she asked her husband, “Did you say too much?” in a police interview room after he was arrested. The detective also said that when employees at her son’s day care told her that her son, Cooper, had not been dropped off as usual on the day he died, she responded, “Ross (her husband) must have left him in the car.”
Authorities have said both parents searched on the Internet for how hot a car needed to be in order to kill a child.
Leanna Harris said she was a grieving mother caught up in “the storm around my family,” according to a victim impact statement that CNN obtained last month.
“The rush to judgment by the public and the mainstream media has left me with little confidence in our legal system and our society,” the letter read.
A grand jury has indicted Justin Ross Harris on eight counts, including malice murder and two counts of felony murder.
His attorney says Ross Harris left his son in his vehicle by accident. Ross Harris is scheduled to appear in court this week.
Leanna Harris has seemed from the start to stand by her husband, sitting through his probable cause hearing and praising him at their son’s funeral. She insisted at the service that she was “absolutely not” angry with her husband.
“Ross is and was and will be, if we have more children, a wonderful father,” she told mourners. “Ross is a wonderful daddy and leader for our household. Cooper meant the world to him.”
If convicted on any of the murder charges, Ross Harris faces a mandatory life sentence.
By Ashley Fantz and Devon Sayers