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UPDATE: Grand Jury Might Get Case Of Boy's Death


UPDATE: Grand Jury Might Get Case Of Boy's Death

July 21, 2008

A Loudoun County man whose 21-month-old son died when he left him inside a hot sport-utility vehicle for 10 hours could face indictment as soon as today, and authorities are anxious to begin legal proceedings against him.

Miles Harrison, 49, remains in a psychiatric hospital, where he was taken soon after he discovered his newly adopted toddler, Chase Harrison, dead in the back seat of the family's GMC Yukon. Miles Harrison told police that he had driven from his home in Purcellville to his office in Herndon about 6:45 a.m. July 8 and had apparently forgotten to drop his son off at day care on the way. The boy was found about 5 p.m. on a day when the high temperature was 90 degrees.

Fairfax County prosecutors obtained a manslaughter warrant for Harrison but decided not to serve it while he was hospitalized. But Fairfax Commonwealth's Attorney Raymond F. Morrogh said Friday: "We can't hold off indefinitely. He's going to have to be arraigned in the near future, and then the case will take its course." He said it was possible prosecutors would seek an indictment when the grand jury meets this morning.

Harrison has hired veteran criminal defense lawyer Peter D. Greenspun to represent him. Greenspun said he didn't understand the urgency to bring Harrison to court.

"I have seen some pretty difficult and very tragic situations in 30 years of criminal defense practice," Greenspun said. "The sadness here is as bad as it gets for Mr. Harrison and his family and friends. This is a good man who has the unwavering support of his entire family. They are all dealing with their grief in this most difficult of times."

Herndon police have obtained a series of search warrants -- for Harrison's home, home computers, backpack and vehicle -- as part of their investigation. A warrant for Harrison's home computers indicated that Harrison had "made statements during interviews about prescriptions, life insurance policies and adoption information for the victim."

Detectives sought to examine the computers to verify or discredit Harrison's claims that he did not have a life insurance policy for his son, one police affidavit says.

Herndon police Lt. Jeff Coulter said he thought detectives were just "covering the bases and trying to get as much information as they can to determine whether this was accidental or intentional. It's a follow-up to cover those angles." He added that he did not think there was any indication of insurance playing a role in the case.

"Any suggestion of a motive is the exercise of wild imagination," Greenspun said. "This was an accident, a tragic accident. There was no motive of any sort, and any inference of that is absurd."

-- Tom Jackman

2008 Jul 21