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Hot Car Death Case: Police description of video surveillance challenged

Hot Car Death Case: Police description of video surveillance challenged

Atlanta Journal-Constitution reviewed video surveillance and noted discrepancies between what they viewed and what was described in police detective’s testimony.

It was less than three weeks ago when Cobb County, Georgia police detective Phil Stoddard sat on the witness stand in the probable cause hearing in the case of Justin Ross Harris, the Georgia dad who stands accused of leaving his son to die in a hot car in June.

Stoddard provided testimony at the July 3rd hearing that described Harris’ online activities, including details that Harris had viewed information about hot car deaths and visited a Reddit page devoted to child-free living. The detective also indicated that Harris had allegedly sexted with several women during the day as his son died.

Assistant District Attorney Chuck Boring told the judge during that hearing, “We plan to show he [Harris] wanted to lead a child-free life.”

Also considered pertinent testimony from Stoddard during that hearing was the description of surveillance video from the parking lot of the Home Depot office where Harris worked.

But an independent review by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution of that surveillance video and other evidence presented in the case shows some potential discrepancies in what had been described by detective Stoddard.

Discrepancies in description of video surveillance

During the July 3rd probable cause hearing, Detective Phil Stoddard testified, and state prosecutor Chuck Boring reiterated, that video surveillance showed Harris had waited 30 seconds before getting out of his car after arriving at work on the morning of June 18th.

But according to the AJC article, the “video shows that Harris was in the car for less than 15 seconds, during which he put the vehicle in park, turned off the engine and then gathered his smart phone, computer bag and drink before sliding out of the driver’s seat.”

Detective Stoddard during that hearing also described the moments when Harris returned to his car after being dropped off by friends after lunch, at which time Harris tosses some light-bulbs he had purchased into the car. That portion of the transcript is below. [Note: The unidentified prosecutor is Chuck Boring and the unidentified defense attorney is Maddox Kilgore].

STODDARD: The car pulls up, and from interviewing the two friends, he went to lunch with, they pull up, he gets out of the car, they immediately take off. You can see him walk up to the car. He approaches the car from the driver’s side. Approaches his car. Opens up the driver’s side door, and he kind of tosses the light bulbs inside. He’s all the way inside the frame but tosses the light bulb inside the car.

UNIDENTIFIED PROSECUTOR: Does he approach from the rear or the front?

STODDARD: From the left-hand side. Kind of an angle, judge.

UNIDENTIFIED PROSECUTOR: Is that angle consistent with that photograph the judge has?

STODDARD: It is.

UNIDENTIFIED PROSECUTOR: Where he can see the car seat?

STODDARD: Correct.

UNIDENTIFIED DEFENSE ATTORNEY: That calls for speculation. I object to that.

UNIDENTIFIED PROSECUTOR: I just asked if it’s consistent, judge.

UNIDENTIFIED JUDGE: Overruled.

UNIDENTIFIED PROSECUTOR: When he approaches, does it appear — is this video — can you describe to the judge how it appears he reaches in and where his head is?

STODDARD: When he reaches in, he comes up, he opens up the door. And as he’s reaching in, turns his head a little bit. He’s in there, he has a clear view, and he kind of turns his head and then just tosses the light bulbs into the car.

The AJC article points out what could be an important discrepancy here. When it reviewed the video, the AJC found instead that Harris’ eyes remain above the roof line of the vehicle, which sounds different than what Stoddard had described.

“But the video shows that Harris’ eyes remain above the SUV’s roof line. Only his arm and shoulder reach inside the vehicle. On the video it shows it took three seconds for him to open the door, place the light bulbs inside and close the door.”

Another key piece of testimony in the probable cause hearing was the description from Stoddard of Harris hesitating as another person passed by him while he was on his way back toward his building from the car.

The transcript continues from where it left off above:

UNIDENTIFIED PROSECUTOR: After he does that, does he hang out at the car very long or anything of that nature?

STODDARD: No.

UNIDENTIFIED PROSECUTOR: What does he do?

STODDARD: He shuts the door, turns around and immediately starts walking into the Home Depot.

UNIDENTIFIED PROSECUTOR: At some point, as he’s walking back away from that car, does anyone else walk by him and how does he react?

STODDARD: It appears another — we’ll say another person — passes him, walking towards his car, as he’s walking away from his car. As that person approaches him, he stops. He kind of stands there for a little bit as the guy walks past him. You can see that man walk up towards his car. He starts a little bit, Justin starts a little bit, he stops. The guy walks past the car and Justin gets on the phone and goes inside the Home Depot.

Between the testimony from Stoddard and the emphasis later placed on this point by the prosecutor during the July 3rd hearing, one was left with the impression that Harris seemed keenly aware of those around him as he walked back to his building.

But the description from the AJC article presents a different perspective.

The video does show Harris pass a man walking toward the car. In fact, the man walks through the open space next to Harris’ parked SUV, passing within three or four feet of the vehicle and walking the full length of it. If he had turned his head and glanced inside, he almost certainly would have seen Cooper.

The video shows that Harris does stop briefly, but his eyes are on his cell phone, which he pokes at with his free hand. He never looks back at the man who walks past his car.

Harris also walks past another man who is headed in the direction of the car. Once again, Harris does not look back at this man. In both instances, he appears oblivious to the passersby.

Brother of Harris criticizes police investigation

The AJC also spoke exclusively to Harris’ half brother, Michael Baygents, who criticized the police investigation and suggested Stoddard “rushed to judgment.”

Baygents, a veteran police officer in Tuscaloosa, Ala., is sharply critical of the testimony of Cobb County police Detecitve[sic] Phil Stoddard, who detailed the case against Harris during the hearing. This is the first time Baygents has spoken publicly since he testified.

“It’s been frustrating to see it portrayed the way it’s been by the police department,” said Baygents, a sergeant and an instructor for the Law Enforcement Academy in Tuscaloosa. “I’m very angry with them. I think they rushed to judgment. I think Stoddard rushed to judgment. I think he made a terrible mistake.”

He disputed several points of evidence:

  • The prosecution’s suggestion that Harris and his wife, Leanna, had financial difficulties. Baygents has reviewed the couple’s finances and says: “To say they were in financial trouble is just crazy.”
  • The assertion that Harris might have killed his son to collect on two insurance policies, one for $25,000 and another for $2,000. “To think that he killed Cooper for $27,000 is a joke,” Baygents said.
  • The claim that Harris wanted to pursue a “child-free” life, based on his visit to a web page for childless people. “I know Ross,” he said.  “Cooper was his buddy. To see him portrayed as a terrible parent is just not right,”

Baygents described a brother who was planning for a cruise with both of their families, and he emphasized that Harris had specifically sought out a cruise line that had activities for children. He also said the Harrises were saving up for a larger home in an area with good schools because they wanted to have another child.

As for the insurance policies that became a focus of attention for police, Baygents said he’d previously learned of the policies while he and Harris were discussing burial arrangements for Cooper. Harris had instructed his brother to use the money for Cooper’s funeral.

Investigation is ongoing

As I noted in a prior post on this case, while some of the details recently revealed by police, specifically the revelations of alleged sexting activities, may say something about the character of Harris, a married man, one key issue in upcoming weeks will be whether or not any of it is actually evidence that supports the accusations against him.

Authorities have indicated that the investigation is still ongoing, so it remains to be seen what other information may be unearthed in upcoming weeks and whether or not it will be directly relevant in the case. The public information officer for the office of the District Attorney would not comment on the AJC reports, while an officer with the Cobb County Police said that they stood by the detective’s testimony, according to HLN.

Given the apparent possible discrepancies as described by the AJC in some of the evidence thus far, it will certainly be interesting to see if this changes how investigators and attorneys approach the case going forward.

Nonetheless, the defense may still be facing what could be a challenging amount of circumstantial evidence.

The AJC article is available via a paid day subscription for under $1.00 for those who aren’t regular subscribers. I would suggest that it is worth reading in its entirety, as it addresses several other points as well that I haven’t included here simply in the interest of time and post length.

[Featured image: WXIA / USA Today video]

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Comments

I don’t care how long he paused, or anything else. He didn’t forget his cell phone in the car did he? Or his drink? I never forget my purse. And I never forget a child. He deserves whatever he gets. Maybe not capital murder but he was criminally negligent. He CAUSED the death of that child.

    Milhouse in reply to sdharms. | July 23, 2014 at 10:46 am

    That is bullsh!t. It is well established that people do forget children in the back seat, especially if it’s not their routine to have them there. This happens about a dozen times a year in the USA, and it can happen to anybody, including you. If you think it can’t, you’re just deluded.

      tom swift in reply to Milhouse. | July 23, 2014 at 11:16 am

      It is a fact that people sometimes forget things, even important ones. There are known cases of experienced skydivers jumping from airplanes after forgetting their parachutes.

        MouseTheLuckyDog in reply to tom swift. | July 23, 2014 at 12:34 pm

        That has got to be some singular incident. Imagine jumping out of a plane, then hmmm i think I forgot something important. What have I forgotten. Oh shit.

          tom swift in reply to MouseTheLuckyDog. | July 23, 2014 at 3:13 pm

          Which is the whole point.

          “Common sense” says nobody would do that.

          Nevertheless, they (very occasionally) do.

          In such cases, the danger is when a familiar routine is disrupted, such as strapping on camera equipment. The jumper strapped on some important piece of gear, as usual. It just wasn’t the important gear he needed to survive the fall.

      atldixie in reply to Milhouse. | July 24, 2014 at 1:45 pm

      it was Ross’s routine to drop off Cooper. And no, you do not forget in less than 30 seconds your toddler is in the car.

Karen Sacandy | July 23, 2014 at 9:17 am

I agree with the above comment about him being criminally negligent, but going beyond that, when he opened the door at lunch, the little boy had been in there for hours. I would think the child went to the bathroom in his diaper. Plus, just being in the hot car would cause the child to perspire and there would be odor in the car. Opening the door and not smelling something indicates willfully ignoring the odors.

Then he DROVE OFF after work with the child in the car. You know their would have been odors by then. You would look to see the source. This is just common sense.

    MouseTheLuckyDog in reply to Karen Sacandy. | July 23, 2014 at 12:43 pm

    Assuming the kid was in diapers.
    For me the biggest thing was the smell at the end of the day. Still given some of the cars I own I might not pay attention.But a parent would probably think it might be a particularly rancid diaper and go looking for it.

    So I asked my mother when we were out of diapers. She said all the children were out of diapers at 9-10 months. Of course back then there were no disposables, so the laundry was great incentive to push the process.

None of this negates the fact that that Harris had been at the Chik-Fil-A with his very awake and active son just moments before he claims he “forgot” the kid was in the car. Harris’ workplace was a mere half mile from the restaurant, and the kid’s day care center was the turn right before that. It defies credulity to believe this guy was interacting with his son, and then strapping him into his car seat and headed for the day care center that was just a 30-40 second drive away, and yet he somehow completely forgot during that very brief period of time that his son was in the car. Unless this guy has some sort of brain damage we haven’t heard about, that seems quite implausible.

Also, none of this explains why Harris didn’t notice the smell in his car when he got into it after work. Police officers who arrived at the scene where Harris finally stopped reported that there was a strong odor of death in the car (and this was after the kid’s body had been removed and a bystander — not Harris — had tried unsuccessfully to revive him on the pavement). If someone opens their car door and is hit by a horrible stench, isn’t the usual reaction to look around inside the car to see what is causing the smell? Then there was the lunchtime e-mail from the daycare center, asking where the kid was.

It appears the detective did exaggerate what he observed on the surveillance tape, which was stupid and wrong. But there are still too many unanswered questions here about Harris’s behavior. It’s understandable that his cop brother doesn’t want to believe Harris killed his son on purpose, but the evidence still points in that direction.

    Benson II in reply to Observer. | July 23, 2014 at 10:44 am

    I agree with you summation. There was no need for the detective to exaggerate any of the actions of the father. Common sense tells you this could not happen unless it was deliberate and the fathers lies make it clear he’s either mentally incapable or this was purposeful. I suppose a parent could be distracted enough to leave a child for a few minutes and then realize it and turn around and go back and get the child but to leave them for hours even after the day care calls you is beyond belief even if none of the other things happened like the internet searches.

      Milhouse in reply to Benson II. | July 23, 2014 at 10:49 am

      The cop didn’t “exaggerate”, he perjured himself. That alone should invalidate the probable cause hearing, and all that followed from it.

        Ownyourtruth in reply to Milhouse. | July 24, 2014 at 6:37 pm

        Milhouse – You’re ruining The Simpsons for me with that name. You are obviously connected to the Harris clan in some manner. The fact of the matter is that Justin obviously intended to leave Cooper in the car. No one, and I mean no one unless they are suffering from Alzheimers, “forgets” their child within that amount of time. Even then, being a parent, one thinks of their child throughout the day. When a child is Cooper’s age, they are incredibly chatty to boot so he was no doubt talking to Justin while in the car. I believe every word of the detective. Every word. Justin and his troll wife are the guilty parties. When I first heard of the story when the pretty black woman on the news was telling her version of events, it was obvious Justin was an over-actor. The second he opened the car door he knew something was terribly wrong. He just needed a good audience. I don’t think his financial woes were inflated. Perhaps misread but not misleading. Justin is a murder and his troll of a wife is an accessory. No mother out there who is not involved would not want to see her baby and would not wish for him back. To talk about future children with this waste of breath is beyond the pale.

    JackRussellTerrierist in reply to Observer. | July 23, 2014 at 12:01 pm

    We are reading the AJC’s take on the video. I’m uncertain as to when the AJC was deemed to be an expert forensic videography organization, or when their credibility made a comeback. Why did the AJC take it upon themselves to even do this? Could it be that the defense manipulated this? Do we even know for sure that the AJC itself looked at the video, or are they simply presenting the defense’s case to the public to sell papers?

    Whether the defendant was in the car 30 seconds or 15 seconds before exiting doesn’t make any difference to the overall fact that he had just left Chik-Fil-A with his son and that the daycare center was less than a minute away. The AJC say dad’s head was never below the roofline of the car when he put the light bulbs in at lunch. It doesn’t matter because he could still see into the car, even if the AJC’s claim is accurate. Further, child seat carriers are large, and when you approach a vehicle that has one in it, you can see them.

    It’s one thing to forget one child is somehow still in the car when exiting the car if the car is loaded with kids or you’re on a long trip and the child falls asleep, but neither of those circumstances happened here. And to supposedly not see, hear or smell the odors when he opened the door to put the bulbs in? Impossible. Why not just take the bulbs inside with him when they returned from lunch? If it’s a Home Depot store he works in, why not just buy bulbs there sometime during the day or as he’s leaving for the day?

    Internet searches for childless living? Child dead in the car under these circumstances and in the context of the day’s events? And to receive a message from the daycare center asking where is the child?

    GMAB

      And to receive a message from the daycare center asking where is the child?

      I don’t think we know that yet.

      The daycare place sent an e-mail, but we don’t know when he received it. The server logs would probably be needed to determine that.

        MouseTheLuckyDog in reply to tom swift. | July 23, 2014 at 12:50 pm

        A lot of times I just blow off emails without even bothering to read them.

          tom swift in reply to MouseTheLuckyDog. | July 23, 2014 at 3:16 pm

          The logs won’t provide evidence that he read an e-mail, but will say when he (or someone using his ID and password) accessed an e-mail account.

          MouseTheLuckyDog in reply to MouseTheLuckyDog. | July 23, 2014 at 3:46 pm

          @Tom, you missed my point. Which is not that it does not happen, but what it’s like for someone it happens to. First they jump with a fealing of “I’ve forgotten something.” Then they realize what it is they forgotten and the reaction “Oh shit.”. Then a fall which either seems to take forever or is over all too soon.

          JackRussellTerrierist in reply to MouseTheLuckyDog. | July 25, 2014 at 2:15 am

          We all blow off email messages. But would you blow off an email from your kid’s daycare center? Really? If your kid was there, would you not be concerned that the email related to an injury or sickness? Perhaps a notice they’d had a fire or ventilation failure so come get your kid and by the way we won’t be open tomorrow because of this problem so make other arrangements? If you knew your kid wasn’t there but was expected to be there, wouldn’t you want to give the daycare center the courtesy of a brief explanation?

          I don’t think working parents blow off emails from their daycare center. It’s too important a part of their daily lives.

    tom swift in reply to Observer. | July 23, 2014 at 3:34 pm

    It appears the detective did exaggerate what he observed on the surveillance tape, which was stupid and wrong.

    So what else might he have exaggerated? That whole “odor of death” thing, perhaps? I expect Defense to have a great time with that one on cross.

If this was all a plot by Harris to leave his son in a hot car all day, one would think that he would avoid (1) going to the car early, and (2) opening the car door (thereby letting in cool air and possibly defeating the whole plot).

He certainly wouldn’t have risked ruining the whole nefarious plan just to drop off some stupid light bulbs.

I once left my 2 year old daughter and her 2 year old cousin asleep in their cribs while I went to a friends house to play chess.

Did not even realize it until my wife tracked me down 2 hours later.

That was really stupid of me. It does happen.

How long before a deceased person emits a “smells of death?”

    Observer in reply to Harold Jay. | July 23, 2014 at 1:24 pm

    Not long. The decay process starts immediately. On a very hot day (like the day this poor kid died), there would be lots of rapidly-multiplying bacteria. The smell would be quite bad.

      tom swift in reply to Observer. | July 23, 2014 at 3:29 pm

      Never handled any dead babies, but I’ve left dead dogs in cars for hours after their last trips to the vet. When I retrieved them later for burial, I didn’t smell a thing.

      I have notoriously bad olfactory senses. Conceivably Harris does too.

        MouseTheLuckyDog in reply to tom swift. | July 23, 2014 at 3:49 pm

        How strong can the scent be, with a body that small? We have the police statement, but how much can we trust the police.

          atldixie in reply to MouseTheLuckyDog. | July 24, 2014 at 1:56 pm

          My youngest is the same age as Cooper. A few weeks ago we were at a BBQ and he had a dirty diaper; good parental protocol says you should take dirty diapers with you so I placed in plastic grocery bag, tied up and placed on the backseat floor of the car. Getting home: get the kids out, in bed, return to car to get out wet towels, pool bags and poop bag. 2 hours in a sealed bag in an SUV larger than Harris’s in a garage that wasn’t at an unbearable temperature and the SMELL was overwhelming – as soon as I opened the door. Same with vomit: older child vomited in the car while we were stuck in the car during the first snow storm this year. Forget the immediate intense overpowering familiar stench that lasted days (in the winter!), it took months to get rid of that smell even after professional cleaning, coffee, charcoal etc.

Leaving a child in a car IS criminal negligence. Period.
The guy should be punished for it.

But there’s something else in this case (and others) that worries me, and it should worry each and every one of us.
I see that both prosecutors and police investigators overreach and go on fishing expeditions that criminalize every behavior or action by their targets. They are pushing hard, too hard. They are inserting prejudiced judgment into the investigation.
They are even making stuff up to make the guy look guiltier.

Sexting proves NOTHING.
People’s diverse lifestyles don’t mean they don’t love their children.
I have searched the internet every time some moron forgets a kid in their car. I do it because it terrifies me that such a thing can happen.
I would never ever hurt my kids, but what if, God forbids, something bad happened to my family?
Are they gonna make me guilty because I researched a topic?
Are they going to find guilt on very one of my actions?
Are they going to manipulate the facts to fit their preconceived judgment?

Is anybody else losing faith in our justice system?

    Milhouse in reply to Exiliado. | July 23, 2014 at 12:48 pm

    Leaving a child in a car IS criminal negligence. Period.
    The guy should be punished for it.

    That is utter bulldust. You are making up the law to suit your ignorant prejudices. It is well documented that people do forget children in the car, especially now that they have to be kept in the back seat, and in backward-facing car seats. This happens when there is a change in routine, and it is something that cannot be avoided; the parent’s brain simply forgets that the child is there, and assumes that he has been dropped off where he should be.

      MouseTheLuckyDog in reply to Milhouse. | July 23, 2014 at 12:58 pm

      I can believe that a parent accidentally leaves a child in a car, and is not guilty of negligence. At the same time I am not sure that this is what happened here. All I can say is I am glad not to be on the jury in this one.

      Exiliado in reply to Milhouse. | July 23, 2014 at 1:28 pm

      … it is something that cannot be avoided…

      Well, THAT is what I call a truckload of bull crap.

      Please refer to the dictionary for the meaning of the words negligence, neglect.
      The “brain simply forgets” because the person is not properly paying attention to his/her responsibilities.
      Check the laws in your state and you’ll surely find that causing somebody’s death due to negligence is indeed criminal.

        tom swift in reply to Exiliado. | July 23, 2014 at 3:44 pm

        causing somebody’s death due to negligence is indeed criminal.

        But your statement was, “Leaving a child in a car IS criminal negligence. Period.” Nothing about death.

        I would be surprised if simply leaving a child in a car is a crime anywhere. Stopping and leaving the car to put a letter in a curbside mailbox can’t be a crime just because a child is in the car at the time.

          Exiliado in reply to tom swift. | July 23, 2014 at 7:09 pm

          Ever heard of the term “context”?
          In the case at hand the child did die. That’s what we are talking about.

          But even if he didn’t die, and once again, we would have to check the laws in different states, but I am pretty sure if you leave a child in a car you will be charged with child neglect. Even if the kid survives. In any state.

          And please, dropping your mail in a curbside mailbox is not “leaving your child in a car”.
          This guy parked, turned off the engine and went to work. THAT’s leaving a kid in a car, and leaving a kid in a car like that will in 99.9999% of the cases cause death.

      atldixie in reply to Milhouse. | July 24, 2014 at 2:18 pm

      Cruelty to children in the second degree occurs when a person with “criminal negligence” causes a child under the age of 18 cruel or excessive pain. In Georgia, “criminal negligence” is defined as “an act or failure to act which demonstrates a willful, wanton, or reckless disregard for the safety of others who might reasonably be expected to be injured thereby.”

    Observer in reply to Exiliado. | July 23, 2014 at 1:52 pm

    I think the prosecution is using the sexting evidence to prove motive. It appears that their theory is that Harris wanted the freedom of a child-free life so that he could pursue other women (or, apparently, teenage girls).

    The sexting stuff is prejudicial evidence (in the sense that it could make a jury view Harris with disapproval), so the trial judge (if the case actually goes to trial) will have to determine whether its probative value outweighs its prejudicial effect.

    So while I understand your concerns about the evidence, it’s not entirely accurate to say the sexting evidence proves nothing. (Although at this point, without more, it doesn’t prove much, IMO).

    And it is true that police sometimes lie or exaggerate their testimony, and that is unacceptable and should be severely punished, as it corrupts the entire process. But keep in mind that the conflicting interpretations of the surveillance video here — the cop saw it one way, the reporter saw it another way — can be resolved by the jury viewing the tape for themselves. I’m not making excuses for the cop if he really did deliberately misrepresent what he saw, I’m just pointing out that two people can often see the same thing and describe it in very different ways — without intentionally being dishonest.

      Exiliado in reply to Observer. | July 23, 2014 at 2:24 pm

      I think I understand your point, but it does in fact confirm my fears that the system is corrupt.

      I feel that as time goes by, citizens have more and more reasons to fear and distrust our justice system.
      We are at the mercy of bad faith prosecutors that care little about making justice and a lot about winning cases.

        JackRussellTerrierist in reply to Exiliado. | July 24, 2014 at 3:05 am

        I share your take on prosecutors 100%, but malfeasant or overly zealous or politically motivated prosecutorial acts do not equate to a defendant being innocent. It’s really apples and oranges. There can be prosecutorial misconduct, in varying degrees, AND a truly guilty defendant or a NOT truly guilty defendant. Many defendants, if not most, are guilty. The handful of cases we discuss are those in which the defendant is clearly not guilty or clearly guilty or the prosecutor’s actions appear to be malfeasant (or idiotically bumbling) or the case is sensational because the media made it so or theories of self-defense are being tested. That number of cases is a drop in the bucket compared to the vast number of cases tried with a reasonably ethical prosecutor and a guilty defendant.

      JackRussellTerrierist in reply to Observer. | July 24, 2014 at 2:48 am

      I agree with you that the prosecution is using the sexting to support motive. It moves the defendant into the “Scott Peterson” category. Peterson wanted a fast lifestyle of babes and no family responsibility.

    atldixie in reply to Exiliado. | July 24, 2014 at 2:15 pm

    You’re right, sexting proves nothing beyond him being an adulterous, pervy, lying man engaging in illegal activities.

    Common sense should tell you that leaving a child in a hot car for any amount of time is too long. You need Google to tell you this? Do you need google to tell you how hot the stove needs to be before it can burn you? Or do you simply just tell your kids not touch a hot stove? Whether I take my eyes off my kid who can’t swim while he’s in the shallow end of the pool or I go toss him in the deep end, the results are the same. I don’t need google to tell me how long it takes a child to drown.

    You need to remember what else he researched/watched in conjunction with “how long it takes children to die in hot car” days prior to Coopers death:
    1. a video of a vet sitting in a hot car recording his experience in an effort to bring awareness of not leaving pets in a hot car – watched multiple times
    2. a compilation video of people actually dying in different circumstances – watched multiple times
    3. A subreddit of “Child Free Living”
    4. “How to survive in prison”

    The CCPD didn’t make any of this stuff up. Again it’s beyond coincidental that all this took place right before he forgot him in the car. A father who takes his son to daycare every single day. Who in less than 30 seconds forgot he had a child – a child whose head he could see.
    You want to go into what these parents said next?

I don’t need the federal government to tell me how to raise my child. The IRS has no legitimacy to tell me that I cannot keep MY child inside the car when I go to the Chick Fil-A to get freedom chicken.

    JackRussellTerrierist in reply to Gus. | July 24, 2014 at 3:07 am

    Don’t worry about the IRS. Any info they have on you is on a hard drive on its way to the wrecking yard as we speak.

When I was about 13 years old, I walked past a neighbor’s car. Inside the car I found their young child (1 to 2 years old). It was a very hot day. Fortunately, the car was unlocked. I retrieved the child and brought him in to his parents.

The child was sweating profusely…to the point of creating s smelly slime.

Apparently, the child fell asleep while they were driving around, and they forgot he was in there.

This is hardly the reason why Harris did not make bond or cause the judge to state at the end of the hearing that this is a “possible death penalty case”. This noon trip to the car and semantics around it by itself is not damning.

What is damning and suspicious and beyond coincidental are the other actions, words and exchanges these “parents” displayed, which of course are not mentioned in the article.

Point is, even without this noon trip to the car there is SO much more to consider and for me, as a mother, as a wife it is all way beyond coincidental.

BTW, the AJC was successfully sued by Richard Jewell and his attorney Lin Wood – the same Lin Wood Leanna Harris has just engaged. Another coincidence?

So did Stoddard embellish by a few seconds and actions – which did not play a factor in keeping him in jail and probably won’t make it into trial? Or is the AJC acting as a mouth piece for Lin Wood and Lawrence Zimmerman (Leanna’s retained death penalty certified lawyer) to try and get something positive for the defense into the media? With Wood’s and the AJC history I’m going with door two.

    JackRussellTerrierist in reply to atldixie. | July 24, 2014 at 3:15 am

    Sorry, accidentally hit the “down” thumb when I intended to hit “reply”.

    I disagree with you about the noon trip to the car 100%. I find it very damning, but I agree with you 100% about the AJC and the lawyers. The AJC is not credible and taking this position just looks like a hail mary effort to regain credibility. LOL! The AJC wouldn’t know a real criminal if they walked up and confessed with videotape in hand. Their evaluation is meaningless, given their history.

      Yeah, maybe you are right. Harris did lie to the detectives about returning to his car at lunch. Why lie if it’s an accident?

      Even if his eyes remained above roof level you can see both front and back seat on approach. You would see the top Coopers head and hair before you even opened the door.

      It is highly improbable that a foul smell did not hit him when he opened the car door at lunch (or while he drove for 10-15 minutes after work). Seriously, opening up a car door when it’s that hot is like a blast from an oven. The lingering smell of fast food no longer in the car jumps out at you on those days. Never mind a fast food smell or even a decomposition smell (that may or may not have been present). How about the smell of feces and or vomit? Both are products of hyperthermia.

      No doubt that all this will all be recreated if/when it goes to a jury.

      Agree, the whole AJC/defense thing is really transparent; but portraying the CCPD as being over-zealous in one interpretation of an event doesn’t change Ross’s or Leanna’s actions/words prior to or after Cooper’s death. Which is why he is charged with child cruelty second degree and felony murder. And why this might be a death penalty case. My guess is Leanna will be charged after the grand jury.

I have a lot of unanswered questions about this case.
1.) When I took my son to daycare many years ago, it involved packing a diaper bag , stuffed animal,bottle etc. I would usually put this on the front passenger seat. I wonder what the routine was for the Harris family?
2.)Light bulbs are fragile, do you throw them into your car ?
especially if his eyes were above the roof of the SUV
3.) When Justin close the car door after tossing the light bulbs, did he use one of those annoying car alarm remote gadgets? This might call attention to the car , OR wake a child hanging on for dear life.
4.) Did Justin close the door somewhat silently ( like I used to do when sneaking home after curfew)
5.)When gathering his computer bag , cellphone , and drink (which I just ASSUME was a 64oz Mt. Dew Big Gulp)was it done easily? Or were some items placed on top of the car while he gathered?
6.) The article states that the video shows Justin “Pokes at his cell phone with his free hand” An experience IT Professional , and frequent Social Media user does not “Poke” at his phone. Could this be a case of overacting?

I want to SEE the video. It will answer a lot for me.

    atldixie in reply to TheOptics. | July 24, 2014 at 1:07 pm

    1.My experience with two children in daycare at 2 different facilities is that there is always a bag, which contains at a minimum a change of clothes and or sippies. Some allow you to bring books, blankets, snuggle toys.

    5. Assuming Ross’s bag was in the passage seat, he would have had to turn or lean right to retrieve. Cooper was too big for the infant seat – exceeding height and weight restrictions – that his head is visible over the top of the head rest portion of seat and his legs are angled up on the back seat. The head portion of the car seat was in line with the two front seats – meaning if Ross turned even slightly to the right – like to back the car up or get stuff out of the passenger seat – he would see, at a minimum, Cooper’s head.

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