Defense: Georgia hot auto death is dad's fault, but no crime

Kelly Huff  Pool  Reuters

Justin Ross Harris, the man accused of murdering his 22-month-old son by allegedly intentionally leaving him in a hot vehicle while he went to his job at Home Depot, wept in court on Monday as his attorney delivered opening statements about the events that led to the toddler's death. "She's going to tell you they got it wrong", Kilgore said. Justin Ross Harris' defense maintained the boy's death was a tragic accident and that Harris simply forgot to drop the boy off at day care.

Harris is on trial for the murder of his 22-month-old son Cooper. Among the first people to respond to the scene around Harris' 2011 Hyundai Tucson after he pulled the vehicle into the Akers Mill Square shopping center upon discovering his son had been left in the hot auto were James Hawkins and TJ Pantano, who were doing work at the nearby Cinco's restaurant at the time.

Harris, for instance, told coworkers that day that he would go to lunch if someone else drove.

The prosecutor likened Harris to comedic actor Will Ferrell and mocked the way Harris said, "Oh my gosh, what have I done?" after he purportedly realized he'd left the boy in the auto all day and bystanders tried to save the child. Citing pretrial publicity, the judge moved the case 275 miles to Brunswick, on the Georgia coast.

Harris' minutes-long drive to work was so short that "there wasn't enough time for anything to re-engage his memory that Cooper was in the vehicle", Maddox Kilgore, Harris' lawyer, told the court.

Harris tried to perform CPR but was too overwhelmed and couldn't concentrate, his lawyer said.

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Kilgore said Harris commented and looked for a large amount of information on a variety of matters, including but not limited to: coffee enemas, MacBooks, homework, Panama City Beach and bikinis.

But the 90-minute video from an officer's patrol auto watched by a jury Tuesday also shows Justin Ross Harris staying completely silent for long stretches. He also said Harris was involved in "sexually immoral behavior", but that's no motive for Harris "to murder the person he loved more than anybody in the world". In fact, said Kilgore, Harris had recently (before Cooper's death) booked a cruise for his family, and had hired a real estate agent, and was looking for homes with a big yard for Cooper to play in.

The trial is expected to continue for several weeks. Prosecutors decided not to seek the death penalty.

"Ross loved that little boy more than anything", Kilgore said today. Harris then drove to the Home Depot corporate headquarters nearby, where he worked, rather than first dropping Cooper off at daycare, according to the charges.

"No. what have I done", Chuck Boring, Cobb County Assistant District Attorney, said in his opening statement. Quickly, however, Hawkins said he knew the Cooper was dead.

As Hawkins continued to attempt to revive the boy, he said Harris stood up and walked around the auto, never telling anyone nearby to call 911. Says he saw a video on internet ("How Hot Does It Get In A Parked Car?") about animals left in car. "And she'll never feel differently or believe differently".