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

    By: Hope Jensen

    GLYNN COUNTY, Ga. - The state rested its case Friday morning in the Ross Harris hot car death trial.

    Day 16 Quick Facts

    • Jurors saw a 3D animation of the crime scene and Harris' SUV
    • Prosecution rested its case
    • Defense's first witness was Harris' realtor
    • The realtor said Harris was looking for a new home in a good school district
    • The second-in-command detective took the stand
    • The defense asked for another mistrial, but the request was denied 

    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.

    Over the course of 16 days, the state called 51 witnesses to the stand.

    Just before lunch, the defense asked the judge for a directed verdict, meaning they did not think the prosecution proved its case against Harris, but the judge denied that motion. The defense began its case Friday afternoon.

    Jurors see 3D animation

    Friday morning, David Dustin, who owns a company that specializes in 3D laser scanning, walked jurors through the 3D animations that he created of the crime scene.

    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.

    The defense objected to showing the 3D animation, saying they were based on faulty measurements and were inaccurate, but the judge overruled it.

    Dustin started with a 3D scan of the courtroom to give jurors an idea of how it worked and the accuracy of the scans.


    He then showed jurors the scans he made of the crime scene on Akers Mill Road, where Cooper was pulled from the car, and Harris’ SUV itself.

    Inside Harris’ SUV was the car seat and a doll depicting Cooper Harris. Part of the dolls head sat over the top of the car seat.



    The defense pointed out "significant differences" between two scans that were taken. Defense attorney Carlos Rodriguez said that in the first scan taken in 2014, Cooper Harris' legs can be seen but in the second scan, taken two weeks ago, they cannot.

    Dustin said the first time they did the scan, the measurements were incorrect so they did a new scan recently and corrected the measurements so they were accurate.

    In the new scan, the defense said, you are unable to see the car seat or the doll that represented Cooper Harris in the rear view mirror. They say the rear view mirror is in the exact same position it was the day Cooper died.

    The prosecution said although that is true, when you turn to your right, the car seat and the doll are both visible. Dustin said he could see both out of his peripheral vision as he sat in the driver's seat. Prosecutors insinuated that Harris would have seen the car seat and Cooper when he turned to the right to grab his bag from the passenger seat before going into work.

    The defense said that's only true if Harris was looking for the child.

    Defense begins its case

    The defense began its case Friday by calling two witnesses to the stand.

    The first witness was a real estate agent who worked with Harris and his wife.

    Roger Webb said he met with Ross and Leanna Harris in February 2014. He said they told him they wanted to buy a house in the East Cobb school district. Webb said they told him that school district was one of the most important factors.

    Webb said he emailed Harris again in May and Harris told him they were still looking, but had moved their search to the Acworth and Kennesaw area.

    The second witness called to the stand was Cobb County Detective Shawn Murphy. Murphy was second in command behind lead detective Phil Stoddard.

    The defense asked Murphy about search warrants and witnesses he interviewed, but was not allowed by the court to go into specifics.

    The defense argued a motion to be able to ask Murphy where he got information to convince a magistrate judge to issue search warrants against Harris.

    "He stated he recently researched through the internet child deaths inside vehicles and so forth. That was used for 10 search warrants. Ten times testifying under oath to those statements, which we know at this point, based on the evidence, are completely false," defense attorney Bryan Lumpkin said.

    The judge denied that motion, saying that asking Murphy where he got that information constituted hearsay and would not be allowed.

    The defense made it clear that they want to prove that detectives were unfairly going after their client.

    "The defense's case is founded not only on the innocence of Mr. Harris to this charge, but also the credibility of the officers who are testifying against him in how they are taking this case," Lumpkin said.

    Defense asks for mistrial

    For the second time, the defense asked for a mistrial in the case.

    "This investigation has been fraught with misinformation, misleading, misstatements and outright lies," Lumpkin said.

    After court concluded Friday afternoon, the defense argued that statements made by the prosecution had shifted the burden to the defense. They said Harris was once again being denied a fair trial and they asked the judge for a mistrial.

    "The truth should not be considered some sort of weighty object that keeps us from moving forward. The truth should be what we're giving to these ladies and gentleman," Lumpkin said.

    The judge denied their motion.

    The defense will resume its case at 8:30 a.m. Monday.

    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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