Detective: It took less than 1 minute for Harris to forget son in hot car

by: Hope Jensen Updated:

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GLYNN COUNTY, Ga. - The lead detective in the Ross Harris hot car death case says it took the Cobb County father less than one minute to forget to take his son to day care.


Day 12 Quick Facts

  • Lead Detective Phil Stoddard continued his testimony
  • Stoddard said Harris' drive to work was less than five minutes
  • During that time, Harris was messaging a woman about his son
  • Harris argued with detectives about the charges he was facing
  • Harris looked at an article about prison and a video about hot cars before son's death
  • Harris told multiple women he was unhappy in his marriage

Detective Phil Stoddard took the stand again Monday to resume his testimony.

Harris is accused of killing his 22-month-old son, Cooper, by intentionally leaving him inside a hot car for nearly seven hours. He is facing eight charges, including malice murder.

Stoddard testifies about Harris' drive to work

Stoddard said the morning of June 18, 2014, Harris and Cooper had breakfast at Chick-fil-A. After putting his son into his car seat, Stoddard said, Harris had 30-40 seconds of driving before Harris says he forgot to turn toward his son’s day care.

Channel 2’s Ross Cavitt and Carl Willis are in Brunswick, where the trial is being held. They will have updates from inside the courtroom on Channel 2 Action News.

Stoddard and other detectives made the same drive a week after Cooper’s death to see how long it took. They say every time, the drive averaged less than three minutes.

A week after Cooper's death, Det. Stoddard drove and timed the same route from Chick-fil-A to Harris' office. He said the drive averaged less than three minutes.
© 2017 Cox Media Group.

From timing on surveillance video, they know that Harris walked out of Chick-fil-A with his son in his arms at 9:20:33. He pulled into the office parking lot just four minutes later.

Stoddard said during interviews, Harris told them that Cooper said "school" just before leaving Chick-fil-A.


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During that time, Stoddard said Harris was chatting about his son with a woman on the application Whisper.

That morning, as Harris sat in Chick-fil-A with his son, Stoddard said Harris commented in a Whisper post that said, “I hate being married with kids. The novelty has worn off and I have nothing to show for it.”

At 9:15 a.m., just five minutes before leaving the restaurant, Stoddard said Harris sent the woman a message that said, “I love my son and all but we both need escapes.”

Harris continued to message the woman until 9:24 a.m., as he pulled into his office parking lot.

Video from the parking lot on June 18, 2014, shows after parking Harris spent around 30 seconds inside his car before going in to work.

Stoddard's testimony also included statements about the “odor of death” he smelled inside Harris’ SUV the day Cooper died and a video of Harris and Cooper walking into day care the day before his death. Prosecutors point out that Cooper was awake in that video.

Harris argued with detectives about charges

Prosecutors played another video Monday of Harris inside the interrogation room. In that video, Harris argues with Stoddard about the charges.

Prosecutors played a video of Harris talking with detectives in the interrogation room on June 18, 2014. In the video, Harris appears frustrated as they talk about the charges he is facing.
© 2017 Cox Media Group.

"I can't be in jail for 30 days. I can't miss supporting my family," Harris said.

Harris tells detectives he doesn't understand why he is being charged criminally.

"Your actions caused his death," Stoddard says. "How is that against the law?" Harris responds.

Stoddard says the day after Harris' arrest, he tried to reach out to Leanna Harris and her family but was told to talk to their attorney.


Harris' internet searches made detectives suspicious

Stoddard says internet records showed that Harris searched "What prison is really like." Harris then clicked on an Ask Men article titled, "Prison life: 5 things men should know."

Harris also commented and clicked on articles and videos on Reddit that they consider evidence of his plans to kill his son.

Stoddard said two weeks before Cooper's death, Harris commented on a Reddit article about a fight involving bikers, saying, "The only reason I hold true to the bikers actions is because the number of witnesses that stuck around to corroborate their story to police." The prosecution argued that that comment speaks to Harris' knowledge of the importance of witnesses to a crime.

They also talked about Harris' visit to a child-free section on Reddit. Both prosecutors and the detective agreed that the link was sent to him by a friend and Harris replied, "Grossness."

Stoddard said just five days before Cooper's death Harris watched a video about how hot it gets inside a parked car. Harris told detectives about the video, which was made by a veterinarian, during his interview. Through internet records, they found that Harris had come across the video on Reddit.

Harris told multiple women he was unhappy in his marriage

Prosecutors introduced several chats between Harris and other women into evidence Monday afternoon.

In the chats, Harris told many of the women that he was unhappy in his marriage. He told multiple women that he had a sex addiction and cheated on his wife often. 

When one woman asked him why he didn't get a divorce, Harris responded, "Kid ... It's the glue holding it together."

Harris appeared uncomfortable in the courtroom as Stoddard read the chats out loud, many of which were sexual in nature.

Ross Harris appeared uncomfortable as a detective read the sexual chats he had with multiple women, in which he talked about his sex addiction and how unhappy he was in his marriage.
© 2017 Cox Media Group.

In one chat, Harris talked with a girl on Whisper who claimed to be 14 years old. He continued to sext with her despite knowing her age.

In another chat, Harris talked about meeting up and paying for sex with a high schooler. She told him she's 17 and he said it's OK, "you're legal."

Stoddard's testimony will continue when court resumes at 8:30 a.m. Tuesday.

You can watch the entire trial LIVE on WSBTV.com/Ross-Harris-Trial. We will have minute-by-minute coverage as well as a daily summary from the courtroom each day. Like Ross Harris Updates on Facebook and follow @RossHarrisTrial on Twitter for updates throughout the trial.