MARIETTA, Ga. — A Georgia man charged with murder in his 22-month-old son's death was sexting with several women on the day of his son's death and that he had two life insurance policies on his son, a detective testified Thursday.
During a probable cause hearing in Cobb County Magistrate Court for Justin Ross Harris, Cobb County Police Detective Phil Stoddard said Harris, who is charged with murder and child cruelty in the June 18 death of his young son, Cooper, intentionally left his son in the car.
Stoddard testified the two life insurance policies on Cooper were for $2,000 and $25,000.
The detective also testified that Harris had accessed websites advocating "child free" and searched "how to survive prison" before Cooper died.
After stopping at Chick-fil-A for breakfast that morning, Harris placed Cooper into rear-facing car seat a little after 9 a.m. Harris was supposed to take his son to daycare, but instead Harris went straight to work.
Cooper died after being left in the car for more than seven hours while Harris was at work. Harris claims he simply forgot his child was in the back seat.
Autopsy results showed Cooper died of hyperthermia, and that the investigation "suggests the manner of death is homicide," the Cobb County Police Department said.
Stoddard said that when Harris stopped on his way to a 5 p.m. movie, he pulled over and took Cooper out of the car. Stoddard said Cooper was dead when his father pulled him from the back seat.
The detective testified that when he told Harris he was being charged with murder, Harris said, "there was no malicious intent."
Stoddard said he believes Harris should remain in jail because "he's a flight risk." The detective said there was evidence of a double life, Harris had family in Alabama and that Harris had said he had law enforcement experience.
Warrants released over the weekend showed both Harris and his wife, Leanna, conducted Internet searches about hot car deaths and "how it occurs." The warrants did not include details about when the online searches occurred, or under what context. Those details could come out during Thursday's hearing.
Contributing: The Associated Press; Ryan Kruger, WXIA-TV, Atlanta