• Defense rests its case in Ross Harris hot car death trial

    By: Hope Jensen

    Updated:

    GLYNN COUNTY, Ga. - Ross Harris waived his right to testify in his own defense just minutes before his lawyers rested their case Friday morning.


    Day 21 Quick Facts

    • The defense called its final witness, a digital forensics expert, to the stand
    • Scott Moulton testified he found no evidence Harris tried to hide content on his phone or computer before Cooper's death
    • Ross Harris waived his right to testify in his own defense
    • The defense rested its case 
    • The state called a Cobb County detective as a rebuttal witness
    • Prosecutors played a recording of Leanna Taylor the day of Cooper's death
    • Closing arguments will be held Monday

    Harris is accused of killing his 22-month-old son, Cooper, by intentionally leaving him inside a hot car for nearly seven hours in June 2014. He is facing eight charges, including malice murder.

    The defense's case lasted one week. They called 18 witnesses to the stand.

    Digital forensic expert testifies for the defense

    The final witness, a digital forensic expert, said he couldn’t find any evidence that Ross Harris tried to hide content on his computer or phone before his son’s death.

    Prosecution experts had previously testified that Harris deleted his Google Chrome history less than two weeks before his son’s death, and his phone history just two days before.

    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.

    Scott Moulton, a computer and digital forensics expert, said Harris is a web developer and that clearing his history would not be uncommon. He said he was able to find some evidence of Google Chrome history prior to June 2014, but no phone history prior to June 17.

    Moulton said he’s worked on several divorce cases where people have attempted to hide or clear their history, and he did not see that in this case.

    The defense also asked him to confirm several statements that have been made in court about a Whisper image found on Harris’ phone, a video on how hot it gets inside parked cars and a search Harris made about prison.

    Moulton said that the website Harris clicked on when he searched “What is prison really like” was a satirical article about prison life. He said it appears to be something that Harris and his friends would share with each other.

    Moulton also told them that Harris never searched for a divorce lawyer, criminal defense attorney, or for terms such as homicide, or murder.


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    During cross-examination, the prosecution pointed out that Moulton received nearly $40,000 for his testimony, yet never created a single report in this case.

    They also said that Moulton found the same illicit messages, website about divorce and video about hot cars as Cobb police and the prosecution's experts.

    Ross Harris waives right to testify

    After Moulton's testimony concluded, defense attorneys told the judge that Harris had decided to testify in his own defense.

    Defense attorney Maddox Kilgore said they talked about Harris testifying on and off for two years and decided against it, but the judge wanted to hear it straight from Harris.

    "Is that your opinion and what you wanted to do when stated to the court?" Judge Mary Staley asked.

    "Yes ma'am," Harris responded.

    "And is that still your opinion?" She asked.

    "Yes ma'am," he responded.

    The defense then rested its case.

    "On behalf of Ross, we rest our case," Kilgore told the court.

    State calls rebuttal witness

    The end of the defense's case did not end testimony. The state called one final witness to the stand.

    Detective Edward Stockinger and his partner are the ones who spoke with Leanna Taylor on the day of Cooper's death. 

    Cobb County Detective Edward Stockinger interviewed Leanna Taylor following Cooper's death. He said she was unemotional during their conversation.
    Cobb County Detective Edward Stockinger interviewed Leanna Taylor following Cooper's death. He said she was unemotional during their conversation.
    © 2019 Cox Media Group.

    Prosecutors played a 15-minute recording of Stockinger speaking with Taylor at Harris' office shortly after Cooper's death.

    In the recording, Taylor remains very calm, at one point saying, "I'm not processing this right now."

    When Stockinger first arrives at the office, he tells Taylor, "Your child is deceased." Taylor responds, "Where is my husband?"

    Stockinger said Taylor did not shed a tear and showed no emotion. He also said she never asked to see Cooper's body. On the phone that day, Stockinger told another detective that he thought it was odd, but believed she could be in shock.

    Harris cried in court as he listened to the recording. At one point, Talyor said, "I don't know how we're gonna get through this ... Ross is never gonna forgive himself."

    In the recording, Taylor said it all felt like a bad dream and she wished she could just wake up. She told the detective that leaving their child in the car was something she feared.

    "We talk about it a lot. It's been one of our biggest fears ... It's always been a big fear of mine. Always. You know, you hear about it on the news," Taylor said in the recording.

    The defense argued that Stockinger had never met Taylor before and did not know her demeanor, or how she would act in a situation. They said that he was basing his assumptions on his meeting with Taylor on "the worst day of her life."

    "She was faking it all for you wasn't she? Is that what was going on?" Kilgore asked him. "I couldn't tell you what she was doing. I can tell you 100 percent she was not emotional," Stockinger said.

    What's next?

    Closing arguments will begin Monday morning. The judge expects to charge the jury Monday afternoon.

    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.

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