Monday, 12 October 2015

Dad 'left toddler to die in hot car while sexting other woman

A man accused of killing his toddler sent a message to a woman online saying "I love my son and all but we both need escapes" just hours before the boy was found dead in a hot car, a court heard.

Justin Ross Harris, 34, was charged with murder after he left 22-month-old son Cooper in a car for seven hours in June 2014.

Prosecutors said the message to a woman and other online chats established motive in the murder case.

Assistant District Attorney Chuck Boring told a Cobb County judge: "It can’t be more apparent than in his own words.

"He loved his son and all but they both needed escapes."

Harris was a self-confessed “sex addict,” the prosecutor said, adding the death of his son would have helped further his ability to have extramarital affairs.

Harris' lawyer argued his online affairs had nothing to do with the toddler's death and sought to have "sexting" charges against Harris separated from the murder case.

But it was rejected by Cobb County Superior Court Judge Mary Staley, who found that Harris’ texts and emails with women other than his wife could help prosecutors establish motive and his state of mind before the death.

Cobb County police detective Phil Stoddard testified that Harris was having breakfast with his son on the day of the toddler's death when he sent the "escapes" message to a woman who had posted online that she hated having children.

Harris also said he missed “having time to myself and going out with my friends,” the detective said.

Harris told police he forgot to drop his son off at daycare on his way to work and discovered the child after he left the office that afternoon.

Harris' attorney, Maddox Kilgore, has called Cooper's death a "horrible and gut-wrenching accident."
Prosecutors have said Harris killed the toddler so he could live a "child-free" life.

On Monday, Staley also refused to dismiss an indictment against Harris on a charge of attempting to sexually exploit a minor by trying to convince her to send him pictures of her genitals.

The judge set a trial date for February 22.

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