An Atlanta, Georgia, father facing murder charges for the death of his son after leaving him in a hot car was indicted on eight new counts of sexually exploiting underage girls.
Justin Ross Harris was charged after authorities launched an investigation into the 2014 death of his 22-month-old son, Cooper. Harris, a former web developer, will be tried separately for the latest charges.
"We are concerned that the timing of this indictment is a calculated maneuver to inflame public opinion against Ross on the eve of jury selection," Harris' attorney, Maddox Kilgore, said in a statement, Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.
Harris was accused possession of lewd photos of three underage girls, sending photos to the girls and engaging in sexually explicit chats with them. The charges stemmed from "advances in electronic forensic analysis in conjunction with recent interviews of newly discovered victims," according to Cobb County District Attorney Vic Reynolds.
"After more than a 20-month investigation into every imaginable detail of Ross Harris’ life, this new indictment alleges no acts of cruelty, no deprivation, no abuse, nor any neglect of Cooper," Kilgore said. "The content and timing of this indictment confirms the absence of such evidence, and it signals the state’s desperation to convict Ross of the worst mistake any of us as parents could make.”
Reynolds said the new indictment could not wait until after the trial for the death of Harris' son was over.
"Had the state delayed charging any further, prosecution of some of the charges would have barred by the statute of limitations," he said.
In mid-February, Harris' wife Leanna filed for divorce — ending their nearly 10 year marriage.
"Leanna has made the decision to file for divorce," her lawyer, Lawrence Zimmerman, said. "This is a private matter and I won't go into any other details at this time."
The couple married in 2006, though they've been separated since the day their son was found dead, NBC News reported. Prosecutors said Harris and his wife were having marital problems prior to the death of their son.