Minute-by-minute updates in the Justin Ross Harris trial (Oct. 19)


Minute-by-minute updates in the Justin Ross Harris trial (Oct. 19)

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Justin Ross Harris breaks down while listening to a description of what his son's Cooper would have felt in the final hours before his death. Brian Frist, who in 2014 was the Cobb County Chief Medical Examiner, had been testifying during the murder trial of Justin Ross Harris at the Glynn County Courthouse in Brunswick, Ga., on Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2016. (screen capture via WSB-TV)

This is a running account of testimony in the Justin Ross Harris murder trial. Harris is accused of purposefully leaving his 22-month-old son Cooper in a hot SUV for 7 hours in June 2014. Court is slated to begin at 8:30 a.m.


Court is dismissed until 8:30 a.m. Thursday.

4:15 p.m. 

Smith says Harris did not try to hide the Whisper app or the messages exchanged through the app.

Prosecutors show a chat exchange to the jury during the murder trial of Justin Ross Harris at the Glynn County Courthouse in Brunswick, Ga., on Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2016. The exchange, which occurred at 9:15 a.m. on the morning of Cooper's death, reads "I love my son and all but we both need escapes." (screen capture via WSB-TV) WSB-TV

3:57 p.m. 

Harris says in a messaging app that he needs a break from his wife and son, Smith testifies.

Prosecutors showed this image to the jury during the murder trial of Justin Ross Harris, at the Glynn County Courthouse in Brunswick, Ga., on Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2016. Prosecutors said that Harris commented on this post on the morning of Cooper's death, right before having a private chat with a woman. (screen capture via WSB-TV) WSB-TV

3:53 p.m. 

A meme was found on Harris's phone, though it's not believed he created it, Smith testifies. It read, '"I hate being married with kids. The novelty has worn off and I have nothing to show for it."

3:47 p.m. 

The jury returns to the courtroom. Det. RB Smith remains on the witness stand.

3:23 p.m. 

The court is taking a short break. 


3:19 p.m. 

Smith says he was asked to re-extract data from a cell phone in September 2015. Because of a software update, Smith says he was able to pull more data from the phone, including messages from the Whisper app.

3:08 p.m. 

Smith says he pulled the data from an iPad and a cell phone using the Cellabrite program.

2:50 p.m. 

The prosecution shows a still image of Ross Harris holding Cooper inside Chick-fil-A shortly before 9 a.m. Smith says the image was taken from the restaurant's camera.

2:44 p.m. 

Smith, an expert in surveillance footage investigation, was asked to get video from a Cobb County Chick-fil-A from the morning of June 18, 2014.

Cobb County detective Ronson "RB" Bridges Smith, who works in the high tech crimes squad, testifies during the murder trial of Justin Ross Harris at the Glynn County Courthouse in Brunswick, Ga., on Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2016. (screen capture via WSB-TV) WSB-TV

2:33 p.m. 

Prosecutors call Ronson "RB" Bridges Smith, now in his 25th year with the Cobb County police department. He works in the high tech crime squad.

2:32 p.m. 

The jury returns to the courtroom.

2:07 p.m. 

Floyd is dismissed from the witness stand. The court will take a 5-10 minute break before the next witness is called to testify.

2:04 p.m. 

Floyd says she never met Ross Harris in person, and never knew about Cooper until news reports of the boy's death.

1:53 p.m. 

Kilgore asks if the conversations with Harris were different than with others on messaging apps. Floyd agrees the communication was the same, and sometimes included vulgar language.

1:47 p.m. 

During cross-examination, Attorney Maddox Kilgore shows Floyd the picture she posted on the Whisper app. It was that post that Harris responded to, Floyd says.

1:40 p.m. 

Harris began texting Floyd shortly before 6 a.m. on June 18, 2014, the day Cooper died. Floyd testifies the two exchanged several messages during the day, and at one point, Harris asked for a picture of her breasts. Floyd sent him a photo.

1:36 p.m. 

Floyd testifies that Harris said he had been married 8 years and was happy. But he referred to himself as a "sexual freak."

1:29 p.m. 

Floyd says Harris told her he liked to play guitar and was the lead guitar player for his church.

1:24 p.m. 

Floyd says she and Harris exchanged many messages, including some of sexual context. She asked him if he was married and he said, "Yes." She asked if he had a conscience, and he replied, "No." The two exchanged pictures of their private areas.

Caitlin Hickey-Floyd, who met Justin Ross Harris over the app Whisper, testifies during Harris' murder trial at the Glynn County Courthouse in Brunswick, Ga., on Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2016. (screen capture via WSB-TV)

1:18 p.m. 

The prosecution calls Caitlin Hickey-Floyd to the stand, who met Harris through the Whisper messaging app.

1:17 p.m. 

Ross Harris and his attorneys have returned to the courtroom for the afternoon court proceedings. The jury also has re-entered.

11:52 a.m.

Jamar said this is her first time testifying at a trial about identifying a user. But she has provided user identification documents to law enforcement before.

Court is now in recess for lunch.

Justin Ross Harris studies a laptop during his murder trial at the Glynn County Courthouse in Brunswick, Ga., on Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2016. (screen capture via WSB-TV) WSB-TV

11:48 a.m.

The defense is now cross examining. 

There is no age restriction to download the app. They do not have the ability to verify whether someone is under or over the age of 17. 

Whisper has millions of users. It’s also available in other countries, pretty much worldwide.

11:42 a.m.

Users with the application can post anything on their mind. The writing is then overlaid on a photo. Users can choose their own photos or use one of the recommendations from Whisper. The app is public. The company does not collect any data. It’s anonymous.

Lauren Jamar, director of content operations for the app Whisper, testifies during the murder trial of Justin Ross Harris at the Glynn County Courthouse in Brunswick, Ga., on Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2016. (screen capture via WSB-TV) WSB-TV

11:36 a.m.

The prosecution called its next witness, Lauren Jamar, who works for Whisper as the director of content operations. 

She comes up with consumer guidelines for safety reasons. Whisper has a website and an application.

11:33 a.m.

It turns out Brani was wrong initially about the car seat used for the testing. It was indeed Cooper’s actual car seat.

11:26 a.m.

If a human was in the vehicle, a grown adult would produce more heat than a toddler, Brani said. 

If you had started the time of testing later, what impact would it have at lunchtime? the prosecutor asked. It would be cooler, Brani answered. 

Again, these questions are important because the prosecution is trying to prove that Cooper may have been alive when Harris returned to his car at lunchtime.

11:21 a.m.

The prosecutor is cross examining Brani. 

Martin Jackson from the medical examiner’s office was present at the testing of Harris’ SUV. More than just Brani participated and observed the testing, including Det. Stoddard. 

Would the results of the testing be different if the doors or windows were open? the prosecutor asked. Yes, Brani said. 

Brani accessed the vehicle around 12:45 p.m. during the testing.

11:15 a.m.

Court is back in session.

10:40 a.m.

Court is out for a morning break.

Defense lawyer Carlos Rodriguez cross examines David Brani, an expert in heat transfer, during the murder trial of Justin Ross Harris at the Glynn County Courthouse in Brunswick, Ga., on Wednesday, Oct. 19, 2016. (screen capture via WSB-TV) WSB-TV

10:32 a.m.

Brani said even if a human body was generating heat, it wouldn’t have made a huge difference in the temperature inside the car. 

“The opinion that you were paid to offer regarded testing about air temperature in the vehicle, not the temperature what a human being would be experiencing,” the defense said. 

“Had there been a child in the vehicle, the air temperature monitoring data would not have changed significantly,” Brani said, at least away from the car seat.

10:29 a.m.

In your research, did you come across PSA showing how hot it can get in a car within 30 minutes? the defense asked. No, Brani said. 

The implication of the defense’s questions about humidity, body heat and heat index are important. That’s because the prosecution has implied that Cooper may have still been alive at lunch time when Harris opened his car door to throw a bag of light bulbs into the front seat. 

If it was hotter than what Brani's testing showed, then Cooper may have been dead when Harris returned to his car around 12:45 p.m.

10:24 a.m.

It took until 11:30 a.m. for the temperatures inside the car and outside to catch up to each other. 

Brani’s testing did not take humidity or body heat into account, the defense said. So there is no accounting for the heat index, which is related to how humans feel the heat. Brani said he couldn’t speak to that because his testing didn’t involve that.

10:20 a.m.

There were three trees that provided shade in the morning for the SUV. 

Brani found two discrepancies in his data because of some technological issues.

10:12 a.m.

If the AC was not on at all, you may have temperatures more equal to the outside at 80 degrees. Temperatures may have been a little higher in the morning in that case but it wouldn’t have an impact on the afternoon temperatures, Brani said.

10:06 a.m.

Whatever is happening before 11:30 a.m., it’s not affecting what is happening in the afternoon time. 

“You have no idea if Mr. Harris was actually running his air conditioning on the morning of June 18,” the defense attorney asked. That was the setting in the car, Brani said.

9:58 a.m.

The car seat used for testing was not Cooper’s. It was a similar one.

9:54 a.m.

If you have a body in the car, they’re going to be adding heat to the vehicle. In theory, the temperature may have been warmer where that body was.

9:50 a.m.

A car can be complicated because there are multiple materials that absorb and retain heat differently. Some colors absorb more heat than others. Some materials retain heat more than others.

9:44 a.m.

Brani said he put in about $24,000 worth of work. His hourly rate is $295. Brani said he spent a couple hours researching in advance then overall on the case hours that added up to at least several days work.

9:40 a.m.

Would heavy breathing affect the inside temperature of a vehicle? the defense asked. Brani said he couldn’t answer that because he tested a vehicle that did not have a human in it.

The lead detective in the case, Phil Stoddard, was on scene the day Brani conducted the testing on Harris' car.

9:36 a.m.

The defense is now cross examining Brani. 

The measurements he conducted doesn’t include how the temperature feels to a human, the defense said. No, Brani replied. Also, he did not record humidity inside the vehicle.

9:29 a.m.

Brani is explaining to the jury a graph that shows the temperatures around the car seat throughout the day. At just before 9:30 a.m., the car began to get hotter than the outside temperature. Around 12:50, it was 98 degrees inside the car. 


At the peak, it was 125 degrees around the car seat at 3:30 p.m. At 4:15 p.m. – that’s around the time Harris would have gotten back in the car to leave work – it was just over 120 degrees.

9:22 a.m.

At 9 a.m., it was 65 degrees inside the car around the car seat, compared with 80 degrees outside. By 11:35 a.m. both the car seat and outside the car the temperature was 88 degrees. 

Around 12:45 a.m., it was 98 degrees at the car seat. The first time the temperature rose above 100 degrees was shortly before 1 p.m.

9:20 a.m.

The day Brani was testing, the SUV was shaded by trees until about 10 a.m. Later in the morning, it was in and out of sun as clouds moved in and out. And in the afternoon it was often in direct sunlight. 

Brani began recording temperatures at 9 a.m. He ran the air conditioning for about 30 minutes as he drove the vehicle then parked it at 8:22 a.m.

9:16 a.m.

The highest temperature on June 18, 2014 – the day Cooper died – was 92 degrees. On July 8, 2014, the day Brani tested Harris’ SUV, the hottest it got was 91 degrees. 

At 9 a.m. on June 18 it was 78.8 degrees, compared with 80 degrees on the day of testing. By 1 p.m. on both the day of Cooper’s death and the day of testing it was 88 degrees. The temperature shortly after 1 p.m. jumped from 88 to 91 degrees on the day of testing, Brani noted.

9:09 a.m.

There were three gauges put on the car seat to monitor the temperature throughout the day. He also had video running and took photos of the scene periodically. The prosecution is showing some of those photos of Harris’ car sitting in the Home Depot parking lot.

David Brani, a mechanical engineer with expertise in heat transfer, conducted heat research on Justin Ross Harris' SUV. He testified at Harris' murder trial at the Glynn County Courthouse in Brunswick, Ga., on Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2016. (screen capture via WSB-TV) WSB-TV

9:03 a.m.

The only time he’s studied a case of a hot vehicle is in this one. But he has studied heat in air. Brani went to the Home Depot parking lot and did testing on Harris’ car in July 2014. 

He recorded temperatures throughout the day.

8:56 a.m.

Court is now in session. 

The prosecution calls Michael Brani, who works for a lab in Marietta and is an expert in thermodynamics and heat transfer science.

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