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At Dad’s Murder Trial, Coroner Describes Harrowing Last Moments of Cooper Harris’s Life

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The last moments of Cooper Harris’ life were excruciating.

The 22-month old toddler was left for hours in a hot car in June 2014 while his father, Justin Ross Harris, went to work. Prosecutors say he intentionally left the boy in the car. Harris maintains it was an accident.

In court on Wednesday, during Harris’ murder trial in Cooper’s death in Brunswick, Georgia, engineer David Brani testified that he had done several tests on Harris’s SUV. He determined that the temperature in Cooper’s car seat was more than 125 degrees as the sun beat down on the vehicle that June day.

Former Cobb County Medical Examiner Brian Frist also testified about Cooper’s final hours and said his death would have been slow and painful.

“I believe he went through various stages as he was passing,” Frist said. “He would’ve experienced nausea, a headache, dehydration, seizures and anxiety.”

He determined the little boy’s cause of death was hyperthermia, a condition where the body temperatures rise drastically.

As prosecutors showed jurors 34 autopsy photographs of Cooper’s body, Harris softly wept at the defense table.

(He was similarly emotional during opening statements.)

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Stephen B. Morton/Atlanta Journal-Constitution/AP/Pool
Stephen B. Morton/Atlanta Journal-Constitution/AP/Pool

Incriminating Online Activity?

On Wednesday afternoon, prosecutors called to the stand Caitlin Hickey Floyd, a woman Harris met in the social app Whisper.

Single at the time she met him, Floyd testified that Harris admitted he was married but left out one important detail. “I asked if he had a conscience,” she testified. “He said, ‘No.’ He never said he had a child.”

Detective Ronson Smith, an investigator who retrieved information from Harris’s phone, testified about messages that Harris sent via Whisper.

One of them read, Smith said, “I love my son and all but we both need escapes.”

The testimony came just days after a teen girl testified that Harris, 35, had sent her photos of his genitals on Whisper. “He told me he wanted me to make him a naughty old man or something along those lines,” the girl alleged.

Harris is being tried on several charges, including malice murder, two counts of felony murder and first degree cruelty to children in Cooper’s death. He also faces eight counts related to his alleged sexual activity with underage girls, including two counts of sexual exploitation of minors.

Harris doesn’t deny repeatedly cheating on his wife, including trysts with prostitutes.

His attorney, Maddox Kilgore, acknowledged several “sexual sins” during his opening statement, but said that was no basis for Harris’ alleged crimes.

Kilgore warned jurors that they would hear about “immoral sexual behavior” and “graphic, filthy sexual talk” by his client. He even said that Harris “has earned every bit of shame that’s coming his way” for his admitted sexual improprieties.

Stephen B. Morton/Atlanta Journal-Constitution/AP/Pool
Stephen B. Morton/Atlanta Journal-Constitution/AP/Pool

On the day that Cooper died, Harris allegedly exchanged sexual text messages with six different females. One of the females he allegedly sexted was just 16 years old.

However, Kilgore said the alleged sexting was “no motive for him to murder the person he loved more than anybody in the world.”

The prosecution’s case is expected to continue into next week.