Attorneys for the prosecution and defense face off in pretrial hearings
Justin Ross Harris, the man accused of murdering his 22-month-old son, Cooper, by leaving him in a hot car, has been in court this week, seeking to have evidence against him prosecutors believe to be crucial tossed before his upcoming trial.
At issue: his alleged sexting of six different females while his son died in June 2014. Prosecutors allege that one of the recipients of his alleged lewd texts was just 16 years old.
Harris was arrested after he allegedly failed to drop Cooper off at day care and went to his job at Home Depot instead. More than seven hours later, he claimed to have found the toddler still strapped in his car seat, unresponsive. Prosecutors believe he left Cooper in the backseat intentionally, and have charged Harris with eight felony counts, including malice murder, cruelty to children and criminal attempt to commit a felony.
He also faces two counts of dissemination of harmful material to minors.
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During Monday’s hearing, an attorney for Harris argued that the police should never have sought a search warrant for his electronic communications.
“They simply wanted to look at Mr. Harris’ life,” defense attorney Max Kilgore told the judge. “They wanted to just go on a fishing expedition to see what they could find.”
But cops say that they had probable cause to get a warrant for his phone records. On Tuesday, Detective Jacquelyn Piper testified that Harris was on his phone when they arrived at the scene and that he was immediately uncooperative when asked to hang up.
That’s when he become confrontational with [the officer],” Piper testified. “[Harris] was using that device as part of an obstruction. Once the device was removed from him, his noncompliance ceased.”
In an earlier hearing, Piper had testified that Harris yelled “shut the f— up” and grew agitated with first responders, including paramedics, when they arrived.
Harris has maintained that Cooper’s death was a tragic accident. His wife, Leanna, is standing by him.
Harris, who has remained in jail since June 2014, faces trial in February.