Wife of man in hot car death finalizes divorce, prepares to testify

But that will not be easy for the now-ex-wife of Ross Harris, even after the couple’s divorce was finalized earlier this week in Cobb County Superior Court.

On April 11, jury selection is to begin in the trial of Ross Harris, accused of intentionally leaving his 22-month-old son Cooper inside a hot car to die. His former wife, who now goes by her maiden name, Leanna Taylor, has been subpoenaed by the prosecution to testify, her attorney, Lawrence Zimmerman, confirmed to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution Wednesday.

Taylor, according to Zimmerman, remains convinced Cooper’s death was an accident. She is also expected to be called by the defense.

“She’s going to answer every question that is asked in a truthful manner,” Zimmerman said. “She’s very anxious. Quite candidly, who wouldn’t be?”

It’s been nearly two years since Taylor’s life was turned upside down by the death of her only child. In the early days following her then-husband’s arrest, there was speculation — fueled by prosecutors during Harris’ probable cause hearing — she may have been involved in Cooper’s death. But no charges were ever filed and the innuendo still upsets her, according to her lawyer.

“To this day she can’t get past that,” Zimmerman said. “She still wants them to clear her name.”

Though she may be a hostile witness, the prosecution needs Taylor’s testimony, said Marietta criminal defense attorney Philip Holloway.

“Every bit of evidence must be authenticated and she’ll be called on to do that,” said Holloway, a former Cobb prosecutor who is not involved in the Harris case.

While the divorce seems to bolster the prosecution’s contention that Harris had grown unhappy in his marriage, longing for the freedom of a childless life, friends of Ross and Leanna told the AJC she still loves him.

Ross knew Leanna was going to seek a divorce, and he understood her need to do it, they said.

“This obviously isn’t the place they wanted this to end up, and they have worked very hard to keep it from this,” family friend Julia Apodaca-Lane told the AJC in February.

The defense has never denied Harris was actively engaged in online chats, mostly sexual, with numerous women in the days and months leading up to Cooper’ death.

The divorce, which was uncontested, allows them to keep whatever personal property they each brought into the marriage — and whatever debt remains.

Back home in her native Alabama, Taylor, 31, got a new job and, according to her lawyer, “was just getting her life back to some sense of normalcy.”

Reliving the tragedy will be “gut-wrenching,” Zimmerman said.

“She knows it’s going to be a very difficult experience,” he said.

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