The hot car death murder trial of Justin Ross Harris resumed Monday in Brunswick, Georgia. Watch a live stream of the day’s proceedings, above, courtesy of WAGA TV in Atlanta.
Harris is accused of murdering his 22-month-old son, Cooper Harris, by deliberately locking the boy in a car on June 18, 2014, allowing the vehicle to overheat in a hot parking lot and kill the child.
The week was highlighted by Monday’s lurid testimony in which two young women who said that they either exchanges explicit “sexting” messages with Harris, or in the case of one of the women, actually had sex with the married dad in his own apartment.
Harris openly wept in the courtroom on Tuesday morning as former Cobb County Coroner Brian Frist provided a detailed description of Cooper’s death, saying that the child would have felt the injuries that resulted in abrasions on his body, and may have still been alive when Harris returned to his car during a lunch break — and still did not notice his son in the car after leaving him there since 9:45 that morning, three hours earlier.
According to the prosecution, Harris had previously expressed wishes to live “a child-free life,” and had researched hot car deaths of children via the internet before Cooper’s death in exactly that manner.
Harris’s defense team maintains that Cooper’s death was a horrifying accident, but that Harris’s previous behavior — which included adultery and “sexting” with an underage girl, has no relevance to his role in the death of his toddler son.
On Tuesday morning, Cobb County Medical Examiner’s Investigator Mark Jackson testified that when he examined Cooper’s body at the scene of the child’s death in June of 2014, the child not only showed evidence of abrasions on his body, smelled of urine and had a loaded diaper. But Jackson testified that the boy’s mother, Harris’s wife Leanna, was not cooperative when he asked for Cooper’s medical records.
On Monday, an underage young woman testified that she met Ross Harris over the smartphone app Whisper, which allows users to share “secrets” by sending messages anonymously. The minor said that she subsequently traded explicit sexual messages and photographs with Harris.
The witness, who is now 17 years old and still a minor — and therefore not identified by name — was 15 when she and Harris exchanged the explicit messages, she testified. She added that initially she had lied and told Harris that she was 18, but later revealed her true age as the two exchanged pictures of their exposed genital areas.
“He told me he wanted me to make him a naughty old man, or something along those lines,” the 17-year-old testified, according to a CNN report.
Anther woman, Jacqueline Robledo, testified that she was 19 when she met Harris through Whisper, communicating with him via that and other, similar apps.
Robledo testified that she and Harris finally met and had sexual relations in his apartment — and that during one of their encounters Harris revealed to her that in 2014 he had also had sex with a man.
But Robredo’s testimony may have actually been useful to Harris’s defense, because she testified that he told her that he “loved his son,” and texted her pictures of Cooper.
Also on Monday, a Cobb County detective, Ralph Escamillo, testified that he had tracked down a prostitute who said that she had a sexual encounter with Harris who found her through the site BackPages.com. She described the sexual act witH Harris as “bland and vanilla,” according to Escamillo.