Justin Ross Harris Trial Analysis



Ross: It’s not like I went to my job and said, “He’s gonna be…I’m just gonna leave him in the car.” Or I didn’t go to the grocery store and say, “I’m just gonna go in for 30 minutes. He’s gonna be fine.” And then it happened. That’s when I see…that’s when I personally see cruelty. I see I meant to harm him is what it feels like y’all are saying.

Male: No. Your actions caused his death.

Ross: How is that against the law?

Brenda: That is Ross Harris in a Cobb County police interrogation room asking officers why he’s being charged with his child’s death. That was one of the big moments today as prosecutors try to prove that Harris intentionally left his child in a hot car to die, another big moment that occurred today in the courtroom in South Georgia. Joining me now is our legal analyst, Page Pate, to put it into some perspective and tell us where this sits with both the prosecution and the defense here.

Ross Harris, sitting there very calmly, talking legalities with the police officers, just hours after he discovered that his son died in the back seat of his car. So is this…what does this mean for the case? I mean, you know, is this strong evidence for the prosecution?

Page: It’s very unusual. I mean, you think someone who’s just lost their child like that would be incredibly distraught, unable to speak. And we did see him weeping at one point. But he seems to gather himself and now starting to talk in terms of a legal defense.

Brenda: Right, very calmly.

Page: Very calmly, very methodically, almost as if he’s already gone through this in his mind at some point prior to this interrogation, but not necessarily so. I mean, I’ve represented hundreds of people in serious criminal investigations and everybody behaves differently. I mean you don’t really know if it’s appropriate behavior unless you really know Ross Harris.

Brenda: All right, but he seems to be very coherent. He seems to have a working knowledge of the law that implies that he’s looked that up, as you indicate. All right, some more evidence today, the courts showing video today that Ross Harris actually watched a few days before video of a veterinarian showing the effects of a hot car on a dog and how long it takes for the pet to be overcome by the heat. Is that strong evidence for the prosecution?

Page: Well, it could be. There are certainly people on the jury that will assume he’s researching how to kill his kid and that’s how the prosecution wants the jury to take it. But at the same time, this is a guy who is on the internet all the time. He’s researching all sorts of things, random websites he’s visiting. He’s surfing all around the internet. It could be completely coincidental. We also know that he and his wife had discussed this potential problem of leaving the kid in the car, presumably Cooper. So it’s been on his mind before. Does that mean he’s planning a murder or does that just mean he’s legitimately concerned because he saw a similar case in the news?

Brenda: Yeah, but this is hard evidence, strong evidence for prosecution, yes?

Page: Well, it’s circumstantial evidence. But, yes, it is strong circumstantial evidence. As the judge will tell the jury at the end of the trial, it doesn’t matter if it’s direct or circumstantial. Evidence is evidence.

Brenda: All right, I’m gonna revisit something that we talked about last week in the trial and that is the video of Harris dropping off light bulbs in his car. He went back to his car after going into the office building, goes backs to his car to drop off some light bulbs that he’d purchased, and the question is did he lean into the car or not? In other words, did he lean in far enough as he dropped off the light bulbs to see his son in the car or did he not? Is that ultimately gonna be the question that the jury will have to decide?

Page: You know, they’ve put a lot of emphasis on where is he, what can he see, what’s he doing. To me, this is important because I cannot imagine if you were planning on killing your child and leaving him in the back seat of the car that you would check on him in the afternoon or you would visit the car in the afternoon. Until the end of the day, I mean, what are you going to see? I can’t imagine that he intended to do this and then went back and checked on him after dropping the light bulbs in. So I think that’s strong for the defense if they use it in the right way in closing.

Brenda: All right. It’s always good to talk to you. Appreciate you coming by.

Page: Enjoyed it.

Brenda: Thanks, Page.

Male: All right, guys.


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