Police: Dad intentionally left child in hot car

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Police: Dad intentionally left child in hot car
Leanna Harris, right, wife of Justin Ross Harris, the father of a toddler who died after police say he was left in a hot car for about seven hours, arrives for her husband's bond hearing in Cobb County Magistrate Court, Thursday, July 3, 2014, in Marietta, Ga. Harris who police say intentionally killed his toddler son by leaving the boy inside a hot SUV was exchanging nude photos with women the day his son died and had looked at websites that advocated against having children, a detective testified Thursday. At that same hearing, a judge refused to grant bond for Harris, meaning he will remain in jail. (AP Photo/Marietta Daily Journal, Kelly J. Huff, Pool)
Leanna Harris, wife of Justin Ross Harris, the father of a toddler who died after police say he was left in a hot car for about seven hours, looks on during her husband's bond hearing in Cobb County Magistrate Court, Thursday, July 3, 2014, in Marietta, Ga. Harris who police say intentionally killed his toddler son by leaving the boy inside a hot SUV was exchanging nude photos with women the day his son died and had looked at websites that advocated against having children, a detective testified Thursday. At that same hearing, a judge refused to grant bond for Harris, meaning he will remain in jail. (AP Photo/Marietta Daily Journal, Kelly J. Huff, Pool)
Justin Ross Harris, the father of a toddler who died after police say he was left in a hot car for about seven hours, wipes his eye as he sits during his bond hearing in Cobb County Magistrate Court, Thursday, July 3, 2014, in Marietta, Ga. (AP Photo/Marietta Daily Journal, Kelly J. Huff, Pool)
Cobb County police investigate an SUV where a toddler died Wednesday, June 18, 2014, near Marietta, Ga., when the father forgot to drop his child off at day care and went to work. Justin Ross Harris, 33, was being held without bond on a felony murder charge Thursday, police in suburban Atlanta said. (AP Photo/Atlanta Journal Constitution, Ben Gray)
Justin Ross Harris, the father of a toddler who died after police say he was left in a hot car for about seven hours, sits for his bond hearing in Cobb County Magistrate Court, Thursday, July 3, 2014, in Marietta, Ga. (AP Photo/Marietta Daily Journal, Kelly J. Huff, Pool)
A Cobb County Sheriff's deputy talks to Justin Ross Harris, right, the father of a toddler who died after police say he was left in a hot car for about seven hours, as he appears for his bond hearing in Cobb County Magistrate Court, Thursday, July 3, 2014, in Marietta, Ga. (AP Photo/Marietta Daily Journal, Kelly J. Huff, Pool)
Justin Ross Harris, the father of a toddler who died after police say he was left in a hot car for about seven hours, sits for his bond hearing in Cobb County Magistrate Court, Thursday, July 3, 2014, in Marietta, Ga. (AP Photo/Marietta Daily Journal, Kelly J. Huff, Pool)
A tear rolls down the cheek of Justin Ross Harris, the father of a toddler who died after police say he was left in a hot car for about seven hours, as he sits during his bond hearing in Cobb County Magistrate Court, Thursday, July 3, 2014, in Marietta, Ga. (AP Photo/Marietta Daily Journal, Kelly J. Huff, Pool)
Justin Ross Harris, right, the father of a toddler who died after police say he was left in a hot car for about seven hours, arrives for his bond hearing at Cobb County Magistrate Court Thursday, July 3, 2014, in Marietta, Ga. Harris is currently being held without bond on a child cruelty charge and a murder charge. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
Justin Ross Harris, second from left, the father of a toddler who died after police say he was left in a hot car for about seven hours, arrives for his bond hearing at Cobb County Magistrate Court Thursday, July 3, 2014, in Marietta, Ga. Harris is currently being held without bond on a child cruelty charge and a murder charge. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
Justin Ross Harris, center, the father of a toddler who died after police say he was left in a hot car for about seven hours, arrives for his bond hearing at Cobb County Magistrate Court Thursday, July 3, 2014, in Marietta, Ga. Harris is currently being held without bond on a child cruelty charge and a murder charge. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
In this undated photo released by the Cobb County (Ga.) Sheriff's Department, Justin Ross Harris poses for a photo. Harris, 33, accused of leaving his 22-month-old son in an SUV on a hot day returned at lunchtime to put something in the vehicle, where the child was strapped into a seat in the back, according to an arrest warrant filed Tuesday, June 24, 2014. (AP Photo/Cobb County (Ga.) Sheriff's Department)
Cobb County police investigate an SUV where a toddler died Wednesday, June 18, 2014, near Marietta, Ga., when the father forgot to drop his child off at day care and went to work. Justin Ross Harris, 33, was being held without bond on a felony murder charge Thursday, police in suburban Atlanta said. (AP Photo/Atlanta Journal Constitution, Ben Gray)
In this image taken from closed-circuit television, Justin Ross Harris, left, appears with his attorney, Maddox Kilgore, before Cobb Magistrate Judge John Strauss on Thursday evening, June 19, 2014, in Marietta, Ga. Harris is charged with felony murder and first-degree cruelty to children in the death of his 22-month-old son, who was left in a hot SUV for hours. (AP Photo/Atlanta Journal Constitution, Ben Gray)
Leanna Harris, right, wife of Justin Ross Harris, the father of a toddler who died after police say he was left in a hot car for about seven hours, arrives for her husband's bond hearing in Cobb County Magistrate Court, Thursday, July 3, 2014, in Marietta, Ga. Harris who police say intentionally killed his toddler son by leaving the boy inside a hot SUV was exchanging nude photos with women the day his son died and had looked at websites that advocated against having children, a detective testified Thursday. At that same hearing, a judge refused to grant bond for Harris, meaning he will remain in jail. (AP Photo/Marietta Daily Journal, Kelly J. Huff, Pool)
Justin Ross Harris, the father of a toddler who died after police say he was left in a hot car for about seven hours, wipes his eye as he sits during his bond hearing in Cobb County Magistrate Court, Thursday, July 3, 2014, in Marietta, Ga. Harris who police say intentionally killed his toddler son by leaving the boy inside a hot SUV was exchanging nude photos with women the day his son died and had looked at websites that advocated against having children, a detective testified Thursday. At that same hearing, a judge refused to grant bond for Harris, meaning he will remain in jail. (AP Photo/Marietta Daily Journal, Kelly J. Huff, Pool)
ALEXANDRIA, VA - AUGUST 17: Stock photographs representing children who have died after being left unattended in vehicles are on display during a news conference to launch the 'Look Before You Lock' campaign at the Campagna Center at George Washington Head Start August 17, 2012 in Alexandria, Virginia. 23 children in the United States have already died from hyperthermia this year after being left in hot cars. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
ALEXANDRIA, VA - AUGUST 17: Alexandria Fire and EMS officials participate in a demonstration of the dangers of leaving children unattended in vehicles during a news conference to launch the 'Look Before You Lock' campaign at the Campagna Center at George Washington Head Start August 17, 2012 in Alexandria, Virginia. 23 children in the United States have already died from hyperthermia this year after being left in hot cars. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Cobb County Magistrate Court Judge Frank R. Cox listens to testimony during the bond hearing for Justin Ross Harris, the father of a toddler who died after police say he was left in a hot car for about seven hours, Thursday, July 3, 2014, in Marietta, Ga. (AP Photo/Marietta Daily Journal, Kelly J. Huff, Pool)
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MARIETTA, Ga. (AP) - Justin Ross Harris was a devoted and loving father who talked about his toddler son often, his friends and family say. But prosecutors have portrayed him as a man unhappy in his marriage who exchanged nude photos with several women as his son died in a hot SUV.

Harris, 33, faces murder and child cruelty charges in the June 18 death of his 22-month-old son Cooper, who police say was left in a vehicle for about seven hours on a day when temperatures in the Atlanta area reached at least into the high 80s. The medical examiner's office has said the boy died of hyperthermia - essentially overheating - and has called his death a homicide.

During a three-hour hearing Thursday, prosecutor Chuck Boring questioned a police detective at length, outlining evidence he said proves Harris intentionally left his young boy in the hot SUV. But defense attorney Maddox Kilgore argued the evidence was insufficient and that the boy's death was a tragic accident.

A judge declined at the end of the hearing to grant Harris bond, meaning he will remain in jail as law enforcement officers continue to investigate and present their findings to the Cobb County district attorney, who will decide how to proceed with the case.

Alex Hall and Winston Milling, who have both been friends with Harris since college and worked with him at Home Depot, testified that Harris talked all the time about how he loved his son. The two went to lunch with Harris the day the boy died and had planned to go to a movie after work that day.

"Nothing stuck out," Hall said. "Nothing was weird."

The two men later dropped Harris off so he could put a couple of light bulbs he had purchased in his car.

Kilgore, the defense attorney, said that showed Harris did not mean to leave the boy there.

"Why would he take his closest friends to his crime scene?" he asked.

Kilgore said Harris had also sent his wife a text that afternoon asking, "When are you going to pick up my buddy?"

And Harris described himself to police 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," Cobb County Police Detective Phil Stoddard testified.

Harris is a native of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, and moved to Georgia in 2012 to work for Home Depot.

Harris told police that on the day of the boy's death, he had watched cartoons in bed with Cooper, then had breakfast with him at a Chick-fil-A restaurant. Surveillance video from the restaurant showed a child who "appeared wide awake and happy," Stoddard said. Harris told police he forgot to drop the boy off at day care, instead driving straight to work.

Harris told police he realized the boy was still in the car as he drove to the movies after work. A defense witness testified that Harris appeared to be extremely upset after pulling into the parking lot, trying to do CPR on his son.

"He was saying, 'Oh my God, oh my God, my son is dead, oh my God,'" witness Leonard Madden said.

But Stoddard, the detective, said witness accounts were not consistent. Harris never called 911 but was on his cellphone when officers arrived, Stoddard said. Harris twice refused an officer's request to get off the phone and was arrested when he used profanity, Stoddard said. Harris showed no emotion while being interviewed by investigators, Stoddard said.

Evidence uncovered by investigators shows Harris was unhappy in his marriage and was practically leading a double life, Stoddard said. He was exchanging nude photos with several women, including at least one teenager, even on the day his son died when he was at work, Stoddard said.

Kilgore, the defense attorney, said that evidence had no bearing on Harris' intent.

"I think the real purpose of all that is to publicly shame him," Kilgore said.

Kilgore also said Harris and his family will have to deal with what he called a catastrophic accident for the rest of their lives. Harris, who was stoic through most of the hearing, began crying at that point.

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.

Scores of reporters and some curious members of the public were at the hearing just outside Atlanta, where police and prosecutors laid out the most detailed account yet of their case against Harris. Some of Harris' supporters also were in the courtroom, as was his wife.

Many were surprised and there was some public outcry when police immediately arrested Harris and charged him with murder in his son's death, and that may be one reason the prosecution presented so much of its findings at Thursday's hearing, said Georgia State University law professor Jessica Gabel, who attended the hearing.

"We can always say that publicity and emotion doesn't matter, but I think the reason the prosecution came out swinging today is because of the criticism," she said.
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