Hot car death father faces death penalty

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An American father whose son died after being left in a car during 31C heat has been indicted on murder charges.

Justin Ross Harris faces eight separate charges, including felony murder, and malice murder.

Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty in the case, arguing that Harris intentionally left his child in the car to die in a premeditated act of murder. He will otherwise face a mandatory life sentence if found guilty of murder.

In a statement, district attorney Vic Reynolds said: "The evidence in this case has led us to this point today. Whether it leads us to anyone else remains to be answered."

Declining to answer questions from journalists, he continued: "This case will be tried in a court of law," and not in the media.

Harris, who maintains the death of his son was a tragic accident, must now wait for a trial date to be set, which is likely to occur within the next three weeks.

His defence lawyer has slammed the charges Harris faces, describing them as the "state's maze of theories," CNN reports.

"It was always an accident. When the time comes, and we've worked through the state's maze of theories at trial, it's still going to be a terrible, gut-wrenching accident. And all the eccentricities and moral failings of Ross' life isn't going to change that," he said.

The other charges that Harris faces include sexual exploitation of a minor, cruelty to children and two counts of dissemination of harmful material to minors, after being accused of requesting nude photos from a child.

Harris has already entered a not-guilty plea, though prosecutors are confident of a conviction, citing evidence that he had looked online to see how hot a car needed to be to kill a child, as he was seeking to free himself from his family life.