The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

State and Nation

July 3, 2014

Detective: Dad showed no emotion after boy died in hot car

— MARIETTA, Ga. (AP) — A Georgia man 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.

Cobb County Police Detective Phil Stoddard testified at a hearing that evidence showed Justin Ross Harris was practically leading a double life and should not be granted bond. Stoddard described the evidence police have suggesting Harris, who is charged with murder, killed his 22-month-old son Cooper intentionally.

Harris has told police he was supposed to drive his son to day care the morning of June 18 but drove to work without realizing that his son was strapped into a car seat in the back.

Harris was exchanging nude photos with several women, including teenagers, even on the day his son died when he was at work, Stoddard said. 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.

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

The detective said after the boy died, Harris showed no emotion while being interviewed by investigators. At one point after Harris pulled over with the dead child in a strip mall parking lot, an officer told Harris to get off his cellphone, Stoddard said. Harris twice refused, using profanity, and was then arrested.

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