Jurors de­lib­er­at­ing hot car death case al­lowed to vote

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - LOCAL NEWS -

BRUNSWICK, GA. (AP) >> Jurors were ex­cused at noon Tues­day so that they would have an op­por­tu­nity to vote fol­low­ing brief de­lib­er­a­tions in the mur­der trial of a Ge­or­gia man whose tod­dler son died af­ter be­ing left for hours in a hot car.

Cobb County Su­pe­rior Court Judge Mary Sta­ley Clark ad­journed court to give mem­bers of the panel time to cast Elec­tion Day bal­lots.

The jury started weigh­ing ev­i­dence Tues­day morn­ing in the month­long trial of Justin Ross Har­ris. Prose­cu­tors say Har­ris in­ten­tion­ally left his 22-month-old son, Cooper, to die in his SUV in the park­ing lot of his sub­ur­ban At­lanta work­place on June 18, 2014.

Jurors heard about five hours of clos­ing ar­gu­ments on Mon­day.

De­fense at­tor­ney Mad­dox Kil­gore told jurors that po­lice rushed to judg­ment in con­clud­ing a crime had been com­mit­ted and then used ev­i­dence of Har­ris’ af­fairs out­side his mar­riage “to es­sen­tially bury him in a moun­tain of his own sex­ual sins.” He in­sisted the child’s death was un­re­lated.

“If it’s an ac­ci­dent, it’s not a crime,” Kil­gore said. “He is re­spon­si­ble. Only him. No­body else. And he has ac­knowl­edged that from day one. But re­spon­si­ble is not the same thing as crim­i­nal.”

The ar­gu­ments capped more than a month of court­room tes­ti­mony in coastal Brunswick af­ter Har­ris’ trial was moved from the At­lanta sub­urb of Cobb County be­cause of pre­trial pub­lic­ity. A na­tive of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, Har­ris moved to Ge­or­gia in 2012.

Pros­e­cu­tor Chuck Bor­ing told the jury it is im­pos­si­ble to be­lieve Har­ris for­got about his son. The drive from the Chick-fil-A restau­rant where they ate break­fast to the Home De­pot of­fice where Har­ris worked as a web de­vel­oper was less than a mile, he noted. Cooper’s car seat faced back­ward, but was se­cured in the mid­dle of the SUV’s back seats just a few inches from where Har­ris sat.

Ev­i­dence showed Har­ris re­turned to his car af­ter lunch to toss a bag of light­bulbs in­side. He closed the door within sec­onds and walked away. And five days be­fore Cooper’s death, Har­ris had watched an on­line video in which a vet­eri­nar­ian swel­ters in­side a hot car to show the dan­ger to an­i­mals.

“As much as we may not want to be­lieve peo­ple are ca­pa­ble of this kind of evil, that’s what the facts show in this case,” Bor­ing said.

Prose­cu­tors also charged Har­ris with send­ing sex­ual text mes­sages and pho­tos to a teenage girl, in­clud­ing dur­ing the hours Cooper sat dy­ing in the car. Kil­gore said noth­ing Mon­day to dis­pute those charges.

In­stead, he ar­gued Har­ris never let fa­ther­hood pre­vent him from car­ry­ing out his se­cret sex­ual es­capades, which ranged from flirt­ing on­line to meet­ing a pros­ti­tute for sex.

“Ross was al­ready do­ing what­ever he wanted to do,” Kil­gore said. “Ross had noth­ing to gain by killing his son.”

The jury will con­tinue their de­lib­er­a­tion on Wed­nes­day.

Justin Ross Har­ris, who is ac­cused of in­ten­tion­ally killing his son in June 2014 by leav­ing him in the car in sub­ur­ban At­lanta, stands dur­ing his mur­der trial Mon­day, Oct. 31, 2016, in Brunswick, Ga.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.