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Dead Toddler’s Mom Cries on the Stand in Ex’s Hot Car Murder Trial: ‘He Ruined My Life’

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Leanna Taylor took the stand on Monday to testify on behalf of her ex-husband, Justin Ross Harris, who is accused of intentionally leaving their 22-month-old son, Cooper, to die in a hot car.

Despite her heartache, Taylor testified that doesn’t believe that her husband intentionally killed their child. She did, however, characterize him as being easily distracted.

“Based on everything that I knew that day, Ross must have left him in the car,” Taylor testified. “That was the only thing that made sense. The only thing that clicked in my mind as even a remote possibility. He must have forgot.”

Still, she grew visibly angry over two days of testimony.

“He ruined my life. He destroyed my life. I’m humiliated, I may never trust anybody again the way that I did,” Taylor said Tuesday. “If I never see him again in my life after this day, that’s fine.”

Taylor, who went by the name Leanna Harris before the couple divorced this year, was also emotional when she talked about her dead toddler.

“Cooper was the sweetest little boy,” she said on the stand in Brunswick, Georgia, wiping away tears. “He had so much life. He was everything to me. He loved to smile. He loved playing.”

“He would smile and talk to anyone, no matter whether it was a stranger or not,” Taylor continued. “He was just amazing. I miss him so much.”

Of Harris, Taylor testified, “He was a very involved dad. We were both very involved — diaper changes, baths, meals. Everything was very evenly split.”

Under cross-examination by prosecutors, she was asked about her relationship with Harris and what she knew of his alleged sexual misdeeds.

Sexting and Dysfunction

Taylor told the jurors that her husband had a big personality. “He grew up in the town we met in,” she said. “He would talk to everybody. Hew as very outgoing; he never met a stranger.

“He was very confident and sure of himself, and he liked to be the center of attention.”

John Bazemore/AP
John Bazemore/AP

But there were problems in the marriage, Taylor testified: Two years after the wedding, she found a racy text message on his phone.

“I guess you would describe it as sexting” she said. “The message was something along the lines of ‘show me your boobs.’ I was in bed, and I picked up the phone to see what time it was,’ she said.

The couple sought counseling with their church pastor, but the problems persisted, Taylor said. Harris continued to create a life apart from his wife — and, she said, he developed erectile dysfunction. “I didn’t react well to them,” she told the jury. “I was afraid it was me, that he no longer found me attractive.”

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Since Cooper’s death, Harris’ sexual history has come under scrutiny. Police allege that he sexted six women, including a teenager, while his son was dying. The prosecution has also presented evidence that he met with a prostitute.

Taylor testified that she learned about this activity only after her ex-husband’s arrest.

“I didn’t know,” she said. “If I had, I would have divorced him right then. I just very bluntly one night said, ‘Do you want a divorce? If you want one, I will give it to you.’ He said, ‘That’s the last thing I want.’ ”

Harris has been charged with eight felony counts in Cooper’s death, including malice murder, cruelty to children and criminal attempt to commit a felony. He faces life in prison if he’s convicted.

He has always maintained it was a tragic accident — not murder — and his defense attorney has said his sexual impropriety is not proof of motive for his alleged crimes.

The defense is expected to continue its case all week.