Mom of toddler who died in hot car files for divorce

Leanna Harris, the wife of Ross Harris, has filed for divorce. Harris is on trial for the hot car death of his toddler.

COBB COUNTY, Ga. -- For all the emotion surrounding the death of 22-month old Cooper Harris, the divorce petition filed by his mother is about as matter of fact and basic as you can get.

Leanna Harris, the wife of Ross Harris, filed for divorce on Wednesday, telling the court the marriage was irretrievably broken. 

"This petition for divorce is not filled with venom.  It doesn't accuse him of anything.  All it says is our marriage is over and I want out," said Randall Kessler, an attorney who has been practicing family law for nearly 30 years.

According to the divorce filing, acknowledged by both Ross and Leanna, they were married in May 2006 and separated on June 18, 2014 -- the same day their son Cooper died.

Harris requests that each maintain their personal properties and be responsible for their own respective debt.  She lists the two cars the couple own and requests only the Toyota Camry.  She leaves the Hyundai Tucson where Cooper died, to her husband.  Police believe Ross Harris intentionally left his son in the hot car for more than seven hours.  He's now charged with malice murder and cruelty to children.

"My initial reaction was not she must think he did it.  My initial reaction is, if she's sure he did it, she would have filed for divorce on day one," said Kessler.

Kessler says Leanna still maintains her right to remain silent about anything she and her husband discussed before and after Cooper's death.  While Kessler says the timing of the divorce probably stems from her desire to move on, he admits it may make some in the community wonder.

"If I were the defense attorney on the criminal side I'd be a little worried that the public is going to think, potential jurors may think, ooh she doesn't like him."

While Leanna Harris did note in her petition that the couple "no longer have minor children" and "none are expected", in public statements she has called him a wonderful father who loved Cooper with all his heart.  Leanna, who was never charged in the case, has described her own life now as a "tortured existance."

"It doesn't sound like she's doing anything but other than saying I want to be away, I want to be out of this situation," said Kessler.

Harris' attorney, Lawrence Zimmerman, would not talk publicly about the petition but did release a brief statement saying, "Leanna has made the decision to file for divorce. This is a private matter and I won't go into any other details at this time."

Photos | Father charged in hot car death

Read the divorce petition (.pdf)

RELATED | Detectives describe Ross Harris after hot car death of son

Ross Harris was charged with multiple crimes, including malice murder, felony murder and cruelty to children, after his 22-month-old son's death.

His trial was originally set to begin on Feb. 22, but has been moved until April 11 due to a change in a lawyer’s schedule.

Photos | Leanna Harris, mom of toddler who died in hot car​

PHOTOS: Ross Harris Pre-Trial hearing


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