• Ross Harris breaks down during medical examiner's testimony

    By: Hope Jensen


    GLYNN COUNTY, Ga. - Ross Harris broke down in court Tuesday morning as a medical examiner gave wrenching details about Harris' son's death inside a hot car.

    [Minute-by-minute: Day 8 of the Ross Harris hot car death trial]

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

    Day 8 Quick Facts

    • Six people took the stand Tuesday
    • Ross Harris broke down in tears as the medical examiner testified about Cooper's death
    • He said Cooper was likely alive at lunch when Harris returned to his car
    • Toxicology tests found no drugs or alcohol in Harris' system
    • Man in jail with Harris says Harris seemed "calm, nonchalant"

    Investigator Martin Jackson and Chief Medical Examiner Brian Frist both took the stand Tuesday morning. They were both responsible for examining Cooper’s body the day he was found dead in the back of his dad’s SUV.

    Martin Jackson is an investigator with the Cobb County Medical Examiner's office. Jackson responded to the scene the day Cooper died. He examined Cooper's body and transported him to the ME's office for the autopsy.
    © 2019 Cox Media Group.

    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.

    Jackson said he remembers that rigor mortis and lividity had set in when he arrived but weren’t firm yet. He said he moved Cooper’s body onto a sheet to complete the examination because the pavement was so hot.

    Jackson testified that he smelled “an odor of urine” on Cooper.


    The day after Cooper’s death, Jackson says he spoke with Leanna Harris and asked her for Cooper’s medical records. He described her as uncooperative, saying that she had already given them to someone else and he would need to get them from that person. Jackson said he ended up having to subpoena the records.

    Jackson said he was unaware at the time that Ross Harris had been arrested and charged in Cooper's death. He said he just knew that Ross Harris was being questioned.

    Harris breaks down during testimony

    During testimony, Frist described in detail what Cooper would have gone through in the back of the car.

    Brian Frist was the Cobb County Chief Medical Examiner in 2014. Frist testified that he ruled Cooper's cause of death as hyperthermia and manner of death as homicide. He said Cooper was likely still alive when Harris returned to his car at lunchtime.
    © 2019 Cox Media Group.

    He said he ruled the cause of death as hyperthermia and the manner of death as homicide, simply meaning someone else had a hand in his death.

    Harris broke down in tears as he listened to Frist talk about how uncomfortable and anxious Cooper would have been while strapped into the car seat.

    Frist then told prosecutors, with the temperatures in the low 90s that day, it is likely that Cooper was still alive when Harris returned to his car at lunch to toss a bag inside. "He would have been uncomfortable," but still alive, Frist told jurors.

    He said he could not pin down a specific time of death for Cooper, but said that it was a "slow death" and Cooper likely suffered for a long period of time.

    Ross Harris broke down in tears as a medical examiner described how uncomfortable and anxious Cooper would have been before he died in Harris' SUV.
    © 2019 Cox Media Group.

    "He would've become dehydrated. He may have had seizures. He would have had, even at his young age, he would have had anxiety because he's been in a car seat before and he's just strapped in there and he probably would've struggled as he was becoming more and more uncomfortable," Frist told jurors.

    Frist said he doesn't believe there would have had a smell of decomposition inside the car when Harris got in at the end of the day, but does think there would have been "the stale odor" of someone who's been breathing, sweating and urinating for a period of time.

    Video shows Harris return to car at lunch

    After lunch a security manager from Home Depot took the stand. 

    Greg Sanders said he was responsible for pulling video from Harris' office on the day of Cooper's death.

    Sanders along with the lawyers then walked jurors through the surveillance video from the parking lot that show's Harris arriving, returning to his car at lunch and then leaving for the day.

    After parking, the video shows that Harris spent about 33 seconds inside his car before opening his door.

    When he returned at lunch time, video appears to show that Harris' head never went below the roof line when he tossed a bag into the car.



    At the end of the day, video shows Harris get into his car and begin driving in just three seconds.

    Harris described as calm, nonchalant in jail

    A man who was in jail at the same time as Ross Harris on June 18 and 19, 2014, testified Tuesday afternoon.

    Mark Wilson said Harris didn't appear sad or upset when he was in jail that night.

    Mark Wilson met Harris at the Cobb County jail. He says they talked while in a holding cell. He says Harris didn't seem upset or sad while they sat together.
    © 2019 Cox Media Group.

    "He walked in and said, 'What's up guys?' and just acted pretty calm and nonchalant," Wilson said.

    He said it wasn't until after he got out of jail that he found out about the charges Harris was facing.

    He said Harris didn't act frightened, scared or like his child had just died.

    The defense argued that Wilson didn't have a long conversation with Harris, only making small talk. They also insinuated that Wilson only said what he did for money, stating he was paid $2,000 to talk with the National Enquirer about his time with Harris.

    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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