Trial Begins For Justin Ross Harris, Georgia Man Accused Of Deliberately Leaving Toddler To Bake To Death In Hot Car

The murder trial of Justin Ross Harris, the Georgia man accused of deliberately baking his toddler son to death in a hot car in 2014, began this week, the Independent is reporting.

Assistant District Attorney Chuck Boring opened for the prosecution, telling the jury that Harris saw his wife and child, Cooper, as obstacles to living a life of fulfilling his sexual desires.

“This case is about death, deception and a double life.”

On June 18, 2014, prosecutors allege that Justin Harris went to work at his office in suburban Atlanta, and left Cooper in the car to die horribly in the heat. Police said he died of hyperthermia — essentially, being baked to death. Police found signs that he struggled to get out of his car seat and that in his terror, he had scratched himself.

Mr. Harris had tried to play off the incident as a tragic accident, but his story didn’t add up, according to the Associated Press. Police investigating Harris’ home found evidence on his computer that Justin had searched for such terms as “how long does it take a child to die in a hot car,” “childfree lifestyle,” and “how to survive in prison.” Prosecutors allege that Harris and his wife, Leanna, didn’t want to be parents anymore and that Justin killed Cooper so they wouldn’t have to deal with him.

According to this report from the Inquisitr, Justin’s wife, Leanna Harris, has also faced scrutiny in Cooper’s death. For example, when confronted with news of Cooper’s death, Mrs. Harris allegedly acted as if she had seen it coming.

“Ross must have left him in the car. There’s no other explanation.”

As of this writing, Leanna Harris has not bee charged with any crimes, according to the Atlanta Jounral-Constitution. Since Cooper’s death, Leanna has divorced Justin and now goes by Leanna Taylor. She is expected to be a witness in the case against her ex-husband.

Because of the intense publicity in the case, Ross’ trial was moved from the Atlanta area to the coastal Georgia city of Brunswick, 275 miles away.

Boring told the jury that as Cooper died an agonizing death in a hot car, a “sex-obsessed” Harris was in his office, exchanging sexually explicit text messages — a practice known as sexting — with various women. In fact, in addition to murder charges, Harris is also facing criminal charges for allegedly sexting with an underage girl; one of the women Ross was allegedly sexting was actually a 17-year-old girl.

“Hold this man responsible for trying to escape from one life into another by killing a child in one of the most horrible, unimaginable ways possible.”

Despite the circumstantial evidence surrounding his client, Harris’ defense attorney, Maddox Kilgore, insists that Cooper’s death was nothing but an indescribably tragic accident. According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Kilgore told the jury on Tuesday morning that Harris’ behavior in the weeks and days leading up to Cooper’s death does not paint a picture of a man about to murder his son. In fact, said Kilgore, Harris had recently (before Cooper’s death) booked a cruise for his family, and had hired a real estate agent, and was looking for homes with a big yard for Cooper to play in.

“Is that something a wild, childless bachelor wants? He’s planning for a future with his son.”

Justin Ross Harris faces the possibility of life in prison without parole if he is found guilty in Cooper’s death, as prosecutors have decided not to seek the death penalty.

[Feature Image by Kathryn Ingall/The Marietta Daily Journal/AP Images Pool]