Judge Staley Clark dismisses the jury and declares the court in recess until tomorrow.
There follows an exceptionally damaging series of exchanges between Harris and numerous women on Kik or Whisper. Boring introduces each and asks Stoddard how Harris responds. According to Stoddard:
Harris tells one he is addicted to sex. He tells another he "hates being married sometimes, too." He tells another he misses being single. He tells another that "my wife should divorce me." He tells another "sometimes I want to be unmarried." He tells another, on May 19, 2014, "Wish I was single." That was a month before Cooper's death. He tells another, on May 23, "I settled down. Kinda regret it." He tells another on May 28, "I'm a bit miserable, too . . . No sex (in my relationship). You?" He tells another, on March 14, "I'm tired of living with my wife sometimes, lol." He tells another in January 2014, "I miss being single. ... I just want to (expletive) a lot of girls, drink a lot and have fun." He tells another in February, "You don't need a baby. It's not easy, and expensive. . . . I love my son, but that joker drains my paycheck." He tells another, in February 2014, "I have sex with strangers to block out a lot of my pain. ... I like it with strangers." He tells another "I have a sex addiction I've acted on. I kind of regret that."
In every case, Kilgore objects to admitting that particular piece of evidence, and in every case, Staley Clark overrules him. At one point, the objection and overruling become so routine that Kilgore simply says, "Same." And Staley Clark says, "Same."
Harris, meanwhile, spends most of this time with his eyes downcast at the table in front of him, occasionally holding his face in his hand.
Boring tries to enter into evidence a conversation on Whisper between Harris and another party. Kilgore objects. Judge overrules.
Harris was messaging with a female on Whisper even as Harris was playing the guitar at his church. Harris said, "I'm really horny." To which the female, identified as Keke, responds, "In church!!" Then they have a conversation about whether Keke is underage and whether Harris could go to jail for meeting with her or exchanging photos with her.
He says, "I know it's not good, but I'm addicted to sex."
She says, "You plan on getting married."
He says, "I'm married."
She asks him whether he has children.
He replies, "One kid."
He then talks about his anatomy.
"Why don't you just divorce your wife?"
He responds, "Kid." And then says, "It's just sex."
Boring and Stoddard discuss a phone number Stoddard found on Harris's phone. Stoddard says the number belongs to a prostitute, and Boring points out that Harris placed three calls to the woman shortly after he and Leanna had texted back and forth about dinner and about her missing him. He said the calls came at 4:51, 5:10 and 5:14 p.m.
Boring asks what Harris told his wife about where he was going on May 31, a Saturday, the day he planned to meet a prostitute.
Leanna asks him what the code for the pool at their apartment complex is. He messages it back, and she responds, "Yay!"
At about 2 p.m., Harris texts that he has finished helping a friend move and she asks when he will be home, saying it's no fun spending the day by herself. They discuss what they will have for dinner.
At 5:30, Harris texts that he's leaving the store, having picked up the ingredients for supper.
Stoddard says another examination of the phone later on yielded much more data on the Whisper conversation and also on communication between Harris and his wife, Leanna.
Boring hands him a set of records of those communications.
On May 9, Harris and his wife talk about Harris's appoication for a job at Chick-fil-A and how Harris says he hasn't heard anything about the job and is worried about it. On May 12, Leanna texts before 8 a.m., "Call me ASAP." She evidently had driven off with the car seat they used to transport Cooper. In subsequent texts, Ross told Leanna he was in a bad mood. "I'm sorry, it's my fault," Leanna said, according to Stoddard. "No it's not. It's just how I'm feeling today. ... No go at Chick-fil-A," Harris replied.
Stoddard then recounts texts regarding a planned trip to Tybee Island over Memorial Day. They argue about whether Cooper should come along.
"Let's start with the Whisper app. Were you able to verify that he used an application called Whisper on his phone?" Boring asked. Stoddard says yes, describing the Whisper app enables users to "put your secret thoughts out there."
He talks about the image on Harris's phone from a Whisper conversation that said the writer, identified as "Always in my feelings," hated being married. Early on, Stoddard says, investigators didn't know whether Harris wrote the message or simply downloaded it from someone else.
He explains that at length, investigators concluded that Harris didn't write the post but that he viewed it on the morning Cooper died.
Stoddard's testimony resumes. He says Harris viewed the video of the veterinarian in the hot car on June 13, 2014 -- five days before Cooper died in a hot car.
Stoddard then talks about an email from Leanna Harris on Jan. 30, 2013, with a subject line "Don't be this dad." It contained al ink to a local TV station's story about a father who leaves a child in his car for eight hours on a cold day. A second email is a forward of a message headed "Look again" from a state agency.
A third email sent on May 13, 2014, a little more than a month before Cooper's death, said "a 2-year-old in Clarkston, Ga., died after being left in her mother's car," Stoddard says.
Court is back in session after a 32-minute recess.
The court takes its midafternoon recess.
Boring turns to the big flatscreen monitor in the courtroom and posts the YouTube video of the veterinarian talking about conditions inside a parked car on a summer day. "I thought I would put myself in a parked car and let's see just how hot it gets," says the vet.
His first reading is 94 degrees. Five minutes in, "we're nearing a hundred degrees already. I can tell you it's stifling in here. Even with the windows cracked between an inch and a half and two inches . . ." Ten minutes in, the temperature in the car is 106. Fifteen minutes: 110 degrees. Twenty minutes: hovering between 110 and 112. Twenty-five minutes: 113.
"It's awful. The only thought that's going through my head right now is I want out of the car. Everything in my body is saying, 'Get out! Get out! Get out!' He notes that his shirt is now drenched with his sweat.
"You're helpless. You have no control over what's happening. You just know that your body is so overheated that you can be in real danger. I mean, this kills, and it's a lousy way to die." The veterinarian makes additional comments in the same vein. Harris squeezes his eyes shut and appears to be near tears.
Stoddard then talks about Harris twice viewing a YouTube video by a veterinarian on the danger of leaving a pet in a hot car, even with the windows rolled down.
According to Stoddard, Harris said, "I would hate for that to happen to my son."
Stoddard then testifies that Leanna and Ross disagreed about whether to take Cooper with them on a vacation trip. Leann wanted to take Cooper but Ross did not. Cooper accompanied the couple on the trip, Stoddard says.
Boring hands Stoddard three new state's exhibits. They are emails from and to Harris's gmail account. The first is the travel agent writing back to ask for details on what sort of cruise Harris is interested in and the budget. Then there was a search at 12:40 a.m. on June 18 -- the day Cooper died -- of passports for children. The third exhibit is an email from the travel agent listing potential debarkation points and likely prices for the five-day cruise Harris had asked about. That reply came in at 9:35 a.m., which would have shortly after after Harris arrived at work and left Cooper in the car.
Boring then turns to the iPhone 5 recovered from Harris. He asks Stoddard about a series of June 9 texts from Harris to sister-in-law Amy Baygents concerning a family cruise. They texted back and forth about it on June 17, the day before Cooper died. Harris acknowledges that he is "waiting to hear back" about the cruise, Stoddard says.
Stoddard says Harris sent an email to a travel agent after telling his sister-in-law that he had already done so. "My family is looking to go on a cruise in mid-October," his email began. Boring underscores that Harris told Amy Baygents he had already checked on the cruise and was waiting to hear back. But he didn't contact the travel agent until after sending that text.
Stoddard talks about the website reddit.com and how people use it to post or read information about a variety of topics. Boring seeks to introduce evidence regarding Harris's use of reddit.com, evidence of which turned up during an examination of Harris's work computer from Home Depot. Kilgore reviews the exhibit in question at length and then grins as he hands it back to Boring.
Boring asks Stoddard about a user called roscoeua. In June 2014, not long before Cooper died, roscoeua asked about witnesses at the scene of a crime, Stoddard says.
Stoddard says a subreddit (a part of reddit devoted to a single topic or theme) called "child free" accessed by roscoeua in April 2014. Stoddard says the subreddit is devoted to "not adding more children to the biomass."
Did you also obtain thousands of chat between the defendant and other people? Yes. When child free was typed in and went to the website, and then went to an article, he responded to a chat "grossness." He continued to read articles on the subreddit after that.
Harris's main email address was a gmail account, Stoddard says. Bama30067 was another email that Harris used less frequently.
Boring asks whether police discovered a search on the topic of prison. Stoddard says there was a Google search on an undetermined date of "what is prison really like?"
Boring introduces two additional evidence exhibits, and he and defense attorney Maddox Kilgore have a lengthy conversation about what they are and presumably whether they are admissible.
The first exhibit turns out to be a copy of a Google results page in response to the query "what is prison really like?" One of the results is "how to survive in federal prison," Stoddard testifies.
Kilgore establishes that Stoddard performed the Google search in the past week and that the results page he generated may bear no resemblance to the page that a search more than two years ago would have generated. He then points out that the article in question has no date, but Judge Mary Staley Clark overrules him.
Boring leads Stoddard through the examination of Harris's Apple MacBook Pro, which was confiscated by the police. Police found searches of websites offering escort services, such as craigslist and backpage.com, as well as multiple porn sites, Stoddard says.
Boring then asks whether Harris used any particular email addresses in association with those searches. Stoddard says yes, and there is a pause as the defense reviews what appears to be the evidence of those email addresses.
Stoddard testifies that Harris called Toddler Room 5 at Little Apron Academy, Cooper's room. But the daycare worker in Toddler Room 5, where Cooper normally went, claimed that she didn't receive such a call or a voicemail. Stoddard said he was unable to resolve the apparent conflict.
Stoddard said he called to speak with Leanna, and Michael Baygents, Harris's brother, answered the phone. Stoddard said Baygents declined to speak with the police and invited Stoddard to call the family's lawyer.
Boring introduces phone records reflecting activity on Harris's cellphone. He asks whether Harris called his wife, Leanna, at 3:16 p.m. on the day Cooper died. Stoddard says he did and says Harris asked, "What time are you going to pick up my buddy?"
Court is back in session after the lunch break. Prosecutor Boring resumes his direct examination of lead investigator Phil Stoddard, who has been on the stand since Friday afternoon.
The court is taking a break for lunch.
Stoddard said Harris doesn’t appear to have a problem walking and looking at his phone. He never stopped to look at his phone in any of the videos that Stoddard viewed.
“(Frame) is in the frame of the door,” Stoddard said. There is nothing between him and having a clear view into the interior of the car.
However, he never put his head into the inside of the car.
As he walks away from the car, he pauses when someone walks toward his car.
“It is possible that the defendant is turning his head as that person walks by him,” Stoddard testified, although it’s unclear from the video.
Harris was able to give Stoddard a very detailed account of his day. However, in his account of his lunch outing he left out the part about going to Home Depot for lightbulbs.
“There was a big pause,” Stoddard said. He starts saying things like “ummm … or trying to draw it out a little bit longer,” the detective testified.
He never said anything about going to Home Depot. He never said anything about going back to his car or going into his car.
Harris returned to his parked car after lunch at around 12:41 and threw the lightbulbs into the front seat.
Video shows Harris leaving his office around 4:15 p.m. There is also video of Harris walking out to his car. At 4:16, Harris gets in the car and leaves. The windows of his SUV appear to be up, Stoddard said.
Boring is showing different camera angles of the Home Depot Treehouse parking lot on the day of June 18, 2014. Harris' car enters 9:24 a.m. and has finished parking at 9:25 a.m. Harris is seen leaving the car at 9:26 a.m. Boring has Stoddard note the moments that the car door opens and when Harris closes the door.
On a map, Boring and Stoddard are now marking all the places that Harris parked in the Home Depot Treehouse parking lot in the days leading up to Cooper's death. Some locations are not viewable from Home Depot video footage.
Stoddard says that police are not sure from Harris' text messaging which day Ross Harris switched to a rear-facing car seat for Cooper.
Stoddard says that Harris stated that Cooper had slept early and that Cooper was wide awake at Chick-fil-A. He says that Ross described the Chick-fil-A meal as a "daddy-son" breakfast. Stoddard says that Leanna and Ross would often coordinate daily who would pick up Cooper.
Stoddard says that according to video footage from Little Apron Academy, Cooper was always awake when Leanna brought him in at an earlier hour. The times when Ross dropped him off at a later hour, Cooper would sometimes be asleep.
In another GoPro video, detectives are demonstrating how long it would have taken Ross Harris to drive from the Home Depot Treehouse to Akers Mill Square.
Harris went to Publix with coworkers for lunch on the day his son died. He would have had to pass Chick-fil-A twice.
Court is back in session and they are watching more videos of the detectives driving Harris' regular route.
The court is taking a short break.
There are some problems with the video stopping and starting.
Boring is now showing the jury the GoPro footage. Given the time of year since school was in session, the traffic likely would have been heavier than it was on the summer day that Cooper died. There are trucks and cars speeding by on the wide, multi-lane road.
They drove the route again in 2016, using a rented Hyundai Tucson, the type of vehicle Harris had. They recorded the drives using two GoPros and also, this time, starting from a parking space actually in the Chick-fil-A parking space.
The detectives wrote down how much time it took to drive the route each time.
First: it took 2 minutes and 13 seconds.
Second: 2 minutes and 40 seconds
Third: 2 minutes and 41 seconds.
Fourth: 2 minutes and 48 seconds
Fifth: 2 minutes and 43 seconds
Once you leave the Chick-fil-A, you have 30 or 40 seconds to make the decision if you want to make a left (toward the daycare) or go straight to the Home Depot office building. Detectives drove the route four or five times around the same day of week and around the same time Harris would have driven it.
Stoddard has driven that route. You take a right turn out of the Chick-fil-A you have to get over very quickly to the left to make a U-turn. As soon as you make that U-turn you have to turn to the left again to get on Paces Ferry. There’s traffic coming at a pretty good clip in both directions and cars entering the roadway.
Harris’ house was about 6 miles away from the Chick-fil-A, a 20 minute drive or so in morning traffic.
From the restaurant to Harris’ office is only 0.6 miles.
While on his way to Chick-fil-A the day Cooper died, he was sexting to someone on the Whisper app. He responds to texts while also
“I love my son and all but we all need escapes,” he messaged while eating breakfast with Cooper.
When interviewed, Harris didn’t mention anything about distractions while driving to work that morning.
There were no photos from traffic cameras of Harris driving to work.
They also found three receipts inside of Harris car. One is dated June 11, 2014.
It was printed at 09:01 a.m. at a drive-through. Harris had already dropped Cooper off at the daycare before going to Chick-fil-A.
Another receipt is for June 2 after he had dropped Cooper off.
Boring is now asking about receipts the detectives obtained from Chick-fil-A where Harris went with Cooper on the day Cooper died, June 18, 2014. Stoddard is looking at copies of those receipts.
You don’t know when this was actually printed do you? lead defense attorney Maddox Kilgore said, holding up one of the receipts. No, Stoddard said.
The original receipts went missing, so Stoddard went back to the Chick-fil-A to get new copies.
“They appear to be the exact same copies,” Stoddard said. Kilgore has no objection to the receipts being entered into evidence.
The next week after talking to the medical examiner they charged him with cruelty to a child in the second degree. It’s felony murder.
Stoddard said he later returned to Harris’ car to look at it more closely. He did not enter the car at the crime scene because they did not yet have a warrant.
“There was a foul odor inside that vehicle,” Stoddard testified of what he smelled when he put his head inside the SUV.
“I associate that odor with death. It’s that foul, stale odor that comes with a dead body,” Stoddard said.
He said as a detective he wasn’t saying the scientific version of decomposition but that it was a smell that he associates with death.
Lead prosecutor Chuck Boring is now playing a video of that interview to the jury.
Stoddard says to Harris that what he did is murder. Harris asks to hear the actual Georgia statute for what constitutes murder.
“I understand you guys are doing your job,” Harris says.
I really am hoping for some kind of … I can’t miss supporting my family,” Harris says.
Stoddard says I’m not but the judge makes the decision on the bond and whether Harris would be able to get out of jail with bond or will be stuck there.
After Stoddard told Harris about the cruelty to a child charge, Harris said, "There was no malicious intent,” the detective said. At that point, Stoddard said, he had never mentioned anything about “malicious intent” to Harris.
When Harris said that, another detective activated a video on his camera and recorded the rest of the interview.
Credit: Channel 2 Action News video screengrab
Credit: Channel 2 Action News video screengrab
Harris was photographed to document what he was wearing and how he looked leaving the Home Depot office that day, Stoddard testified.
Also, Harris had thrown away a Publix receipt, which was later recovered by police. It was for a 3-piece chicken tender meal with sweet tea.
Det. Stoddard has taken the witness stand.
Friday’s testimony stopped off after watching a video of Harris with his then-wife Leanna and another of Stoddard interviewing the defendant.
Stoddard said after he put Harris back in the cell he met with his staff to go through the evidence in the case and talk about what the appropriate charges would be.
At that time they charged cruelty to a child in the first. The child needed something, wasn’t given it and died. This charge doesn’t require malice.
Court is now in session.