Warning. Disturbing Content
Disturbing photos were presented at the trial of a Georgia father charged with the alleged hot car death of his 22-month old son in 2014, Daily Mail is reporting. Justin Ross Harris, 35, who has been charged on multiple counts insists that the death was an accident and not intentional.
Prosecutors say Justin Ross Harris deliberately left his son, Cooper Harris, to bake in a car outside his Atlanta workplace for seven hours. The graphic images entered as evidence in court showed the little boy’s body in a state of rigor mortis.
His legs were bent stiff from sitting in his red and black car seat. He had scratches on his face, proof of an attempt that he tried in vain to claw out of his restricted position and struggled to breathe. An image taken of the temperature indicator showed it at 95 degrees. Cooper’s eyes were wide open in death.
The police photographer, Brad Shumpert, who stood next to the display screen that showed the young boy’s body splayed on the asphalt outside his father’s silver-colored SUV, said he recalled the victim wearing a “hot, musty, urine-soaked diaper.”
The chilling images made several jurors uncomfortable. One woman covered her eyes and another had her hand on her mouth in utter shock. Several other jurors had looked away as the displays continued. The boy’s father had also looked away from the screen and wiped tears from his eyes.
James Hawkins and Anthony Pantano were the first people on the scene when Harris started screaming that his son was unconscious. The two lighting installers helped to pull the sweat-soaked and lifeless body of Cooper from his father’s car.
Pantano testified that the frantic father attempted to revive his son as he was put on the ground, but walked away after “a few compressions and one breath.” Harris attorney, Maddox Kilgore argued that his client was “overwhelmed and couldn’t concentrate” well enough to administer CPR.
Prosecutors are contending that Harris misled investigators into believing that his son’s death was an accident. They have described Harris as a sexting addict who wanted Cooper out of his life so that he could enjoy his liaisons with women and prostitutes he met frequently on the Internet.
“He closed the door on his 22-month old son’ life and sought another life…on that day when his son was cooking to death, he was texting with a 16-year-old girl, trying to get photos of her vaginal area.”
The leading prosecuting attorney, Chuck Boring said it was incredible that Harris could have claimed he did not recall the child was in the car after they both shared breakfast at a Chick-fil-A restaurant just minutes earlier.
“Where he had breakfast with his son, he was texting a woman [saying] ‘I hate being married with kids. The novelty has worn off and I have nothing to show for it.”’
Boring also criticized Harris’s reaction to the discovery of Cooper’s body saying it exuded all the trappings of a staged performance. The attorney said the 35-year-old man did not call emergency services and while other people were trying to help his son, he walked around and tried to reach his wife and the child’s day care on the phone.
The Cobb County Senior Assistant District Attorney confirmed that Harris had been researching if a child could die if left in a hot car prior to Cooper’s death. Harris, in an interview with police, said he did that only to take precautions and because he feared that it could happen.
Harris, a programmer with Home Depot Corporation was charged with two counts of felony murder, malice murder, and cruelty to children in the first degree as well as for the criminal attempt to commit a felony of sexual exploitation of children in September 2014.
His trial will be put on hold until Hurricane Matthew blows over. The judge made the decision after projections showed the storm could hit parts of Georgia.
Justin Ross Harris could face a maximum sentence of life imprisonment if found guilty.
[Featured Image by Stephen B. Morton/Atlanta Journal-Constitution/AP Images Pool]