Wednesday, September 27, 2023
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Before Son’s Death, Dad Felt Trapped, Jury Hears

(CN) — The father charged with intentionally leaving his son in a hot car to die in June 2014 complained about his marriage and son over several social media messages with various women, the lead detective in the case testified Monday.

Justin Ross Harris covered his face with his hand and closed his eyes as Cobb County Police Department Detective Phil Stoddard read the defendant's conversations in the months and weeks leading up to his son Cooper's death.

Defense attorney Maddox Kilgore objected to each piece of evidence prosecutors asked to admit, only to be overruled by Judge Mary Staley Clark every time.

Harris confesses to having a sex addiction in many of his messages. On May 21, 2014, Harris wrote "Wish I was single" in Whisper app conversation.

In February 2014, he told another woman "I love my son, but that joker drains my paycheck."

"Why don't you just divorce your wife?" one woman asked, to which Harris replied, "Kid."

Earlier in the day, Stoddard testified that Harris dropped Cooper off at daycare 80 percent of the time, and video footage was shown of Harris walking his son into the daycare on June 17, 2014, the day before Cooper died.

Lead prosecutor Chuck Boring showed Harris's parking spot the day that Cooper died. Stoddard said there was a closer spot available. The footage showed Harris stayed in his SUV several moments before walking into work.

Stoddard said when he questioned Harris about what he did for lunch that day, he said he went to Publix, but then, he said, "there's a big pause. He starts saying 'um," Stoddard recalled.

Harris failed to mention to Stoddard that he had purchased light bulbs at Home Depot during lunch. Video footage showed him appearing to toss the light bulbs into his parked car upon returning from lunch.

"There's nothing between him and the view of the inside of that car," Stoddard said.

Stoddard also read an email sent to Harris from his former wife, Leanna Taylor, on Jan. 30, 2013. The subject of the email was "Don't be this dad," and the video link showed a local news story about a father leaving a child in a cold car for eight hours.

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