Jurors see SUV where tot died in father's murder trial

The car where Cooper Harris died in a suburban Atlanta parking lot in June 2014


BRUNSWICK, Ga. -- Jurors in the trial of a Georgia man charged with murder after his toddler son died in the back of a SUV have taken a firsthand look at the vehicle.


Justin Harris with his son, Cooper

CBS Atlanta

News outlets report that jurors walked around the Hyundai Tucson and looked inside Thursday. But they were prohibited from touching the car, where 22-month-old Cooper Harris was left to die in June 2014.

Cooper’s father, Justin Ross Harris, is accused of intentionally killing the boy by leaving him in the car in suburban Atlanta, where he had moved from Alabama in 2012. His lawyers call the death accidental.

The defense objected to the viewing, reports the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, while the prosecution argued jurors should be able to examine a vital piece of evidence they called “the murder weapon.”

Cobb County Superior Court Judge Mary Staley Clark said viewing the vehicle would give jurors a better sense of the SUV’s dimensions.

One juror, according to the paper, pretended to toss something into the car, as Justin Ross Harris did with a pack of light bulbs he had just purchased during his lunch hour on the day his son died. The boy was still inside the car and Harris has said he didn’t see the child before he returned to work.

Lead defense attorney Maddox Kilgore called the viewing exercise “an absolute disaster” and asked Staley Clark for a mistrial, which she denied. Kilgore said Harris stands six feet, two inches tall, while jurors who are shorter would have a much different view of the vehicle’s interior from the outside, the paper reports.

The prosecution has reportedly told the judge they expect to rest today. They’ve been presenting their case since Oct. 3, but proceedings were delayed amid Hurricane Matthew.