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Former escort testifies she had sex with dad charged in toddler's hot car death

Justin Ross Harris at his murder trial, Oct. 14, 2016

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BRUNSWICK, Ga. -- A former escort testified Friday she had sex with a Georgia father just weeks before he’s accused of leaving his toddler son in a hot car to die.

Prosecutors say Justin Ross Harris intentionally killed 22-month-old Cooper Harris by leaving him for hours in a vehicle parked outside the father’s metro Atlanta workplace in June 2014. They say Harris actually plotted to kill his son, hoping to escape his family responsibilities to focus on sexual liaisons he was having with prostitutes and women he met online. Harris is also charged with sending sexually explicit text messages and photos to an underage teenage girl.

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Justin Harris with his son, Cooper

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“This case is about death, deception and a double life,” prosecutor Chuck Boring said in his opening remarks to the jury in the murder case last week.

Taking the stand Friday, Daniela Doerr said she was working as an escort in May 2014, living in a Marietta hotel and using the website Backpage.com to advertise her services, reports the Atlanta Journal Constitution. She said she had sex with Harris on three occasions that month, describing the encounters as “strictly business and you’re on your way.”

She said she felt confident she recognized Harris as her client because he was white, and most of her clients were African-American. Doerr reportedly described Harris as “very relaxed” and “dumpy.”

Defense attorneys argue while Harris is responsible for the boy’s death, it was a tragic accident. Defense Attorney Maddox Kilgore told jurors during opening statements last week they will indeed hear about “immoral sexual behavior” and “graphic, filthy sexual talk” by his client. He said Harris “has earned every bit of shame that’s coming his way.”

However, he said despite committing “sexual sins,” Harris is not a criminal. He said Cooper’s mother, to whom Harris was married at the time of the boy’s death, would testify during the trial that Harris was a “wonderful father.”

Kilgore said Harris was also planning a future with his wife and son - from planning a family cruise at the time of Cooper’s death to talking with a real estate agent about finding a larger house in a good school district, Kilgore said.

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Justin Ross Harris, right, his wife Leanna, left, and their son Cooper

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Also on Friday, a former Cobb County computer forensics investigator testified he did not find evidence that Harris or his ex-wife researched child car deaths, an allegation that had been reported in the media, according to the Atlanta Journal Constitution. A detective reportedly testified at a hearing shortly after the boy’s death that Harris told him he watched an advocate video about preventing child car deaths.

Friday, the forensics expert, Ray Yeager, said detectives told him Harris conducted the research about how children die in hot cars, but told a defense attorney he didn’t find evidence to support that in the couple’s cellphones or computers.

Yeager did say that Harris accessed a Reddit catergory entitled “child free” by typing in a direct URL, but did not conduct an internet search on the term.

Pretrial publicity prompted the trial’s move to Brunswick, 275 miles from the Atlanta suburbs.

Harris faces life in prison if convicted of murder.