A detective testified today that a Georgia man charged in the death of his 22-month-old son, who died after being left along in a hot car, was exchanging nude photos with women on the day his son died and had looked at websites about having a child-free life.
Justin Ross Harris, 33, appeared in Cobb County Magistrate Court in Marietta, Georgia, today for a bond and probable cause hearing. A judge will decide if Harris should stand trial on murder and child cruelty charges in the June 18 death of his son, Cooper.
Police believe Harris intentionally left his toddler son in the backseat of a hot SUV. The boy was left alone for about seven hours.
At the hearing, Cobb County Police Detective Phil Stoddard said Harris had been sexting with about six women other than his wife on the day the child died.
The Associated Press reports:
Harris was exchanging nude photos with several women, including teenagers, even on the day his son died when he was at work, Stoddard said. In the weeks before the boy’s death, the man also had looked at a website that advocated against having children and had done an Internet search for ‘‘how to survive in prison,’’ the detective said.
‘‘I think the evidence now is showing intent,’’ Stoddard said. He said Harris should remain in jail because he is a flight risk: There is evidence he was leading a double life, he has family in Alabama, and the former 911 dispatcher has law enforcement experience.
Harris is an Alabama native, but moved to Georgia in 2012.
Stoddard also testified that Harris showed no emotion while being interviewed by investigators after the boy died.
Harris has said he did not realize the boy was in the car until he left work, according to the AP report.
Stoddard also described Harris’ account of what happened that morning. Harris portrayed himself to investigators as a doting father who always kissed his son when he strapped him into the car seat because ‘‘he wanted Cooper to know his daddy loves him,’’ the detective said.
Harris told police he had watched cartoons in bed with the boy, then had breakfast with him at a Chick-fil-A restaurant. Harris said he forgot to drop the boy off at day care, instead driving straight to work.
A defense witness testified that Harris was upset after finding his son and said, ‘Oh my God, oh my God, my son is dead, oh my god.’’’ The witness also said Harris tried to perform CPR on the boy.
After his son’s death, Harris told investigators he had done an Internet search on what temperature could cause a child’s death in a vehicle.
On the day Cooper Harris died, the temperature was 88 degrees at 5:16 p.m., according to a police warrant filed the day after.