Jury deliberations begin in Ross Harris trial

Jury deliberations got underway Tuesday morning in the Ross Harris hot car death trial.

A number of items of evidence were sent to the jury room -- including the car seat that Cooper Harris was seated in when he was found on that fateful June day in 2014.

After a couple of hours of deliberation, the jury sent out several questions. They wanted a text-based transcript of the testimony of Cobb County Police Detective Phil Stoddard, who was the lead investigator in the case. The judge denied the request, saying that if the jury wanted to view Stoddard's testimony once again, they would be able to view video of it in court.

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Their second question was a legal definition of the term "wanton." The word itself is not defined separately within the bounds of Georgia law.

The Webster's New World Collegiate dictionary definition of wanton is "recklessly or arrogantly ignoring justice, decency, morality, etc."  The Webster's New World Law Dictionary expands upon that definition: "reckless, extremely careless, acting with utter disregard for others, implies conduct that is beyond mere negligence. In criminal law, malicious or malevolent intent."

Since the word is not defined in Georgia law, the judge did not send a particular definition to the jury to use in their deliberations.

Just before the court recessed for the day at the midday break, the jury requested two other items -- one was the opportunity to view video of the entire police interview between Ross Harris and Detective Stoddard. The judge said the jury would be granted the opportunity to view that video on Wednesday. 

The other item requested was the doll used to represent Cooper Harris in the car seat. This request was denied. According to the judge, the doll was simply a mock-up used for demonstration purposes and not an item of evidence which would be provided to the jury.

Closing arguments concluded Monday afternoon in the Glynn County Courthouse. After emotional presentations delivered by both the State and defense concluded, Harris was visibly upset by the end of the day.

Cobb County District Attorney Chuck Boring began closing arguments by clarifying the meaning of all counts that Harris was being charged with. Afterwards, lead defense attorney Kilgore Maddox focused his argument on the incident being an accident and how the prosecution constructed their case on false information.

After the defense concluded, the prosecution finished the second half their closing arguments and Judge Staley read the charging instructions to the jury.

PHOTOS | Closing arguments: Ross Harris Hot Car Death Trial - Day 22

The judge adjourned the court for lunch at that point, allowing DA Boring to return for the remaining half of his closing after lunch.

After an afternoon break, Judge Mary Staley began her charging remarks.  

On Friday the defense brought their final expert witness to the stand before resting their case. When asked if he wanted to testify, Harris stood and and quietly declined. Judge Mary Staley asked if he understood that he had the both the right to testify and the right to remain silent in the case.

"Yes, your honor," he replied. 

The state then brought forth a final rebuttal witness -- Edward Stockinger, with the Cobb County Police Crimes Against Persons Unit. Stockinger testified about how unemotional Leanna Taylor appeared after receiving the news of Cooper’s death, court was dismissed.

 

The jury could receive the case as early as Monday afternoon.

RELATED | Ross Harris will not testify, defense rests in the hot car death trial

Ross Harris faces a number of charges, including malice murder and felony murder in the June 2014 hot car death of his 22-month-old son Cooper Harris.

PHOTOS | In-studio experts weigh in

 

PHOTOS | Ross Harris Hot Car Death Trial - Day 21

 

PHOTOS | Ross Harris SUV shown to jury 

PHOTOS | Key players in Ross Harris hot car death trial

Want to catch up with the Hot Car Death Trial? Start from Day 1 here.

Access previous stories and get in-depth analysis on the Ross Harris trial by clicking here. 

Stay updated on the trial by downloading the FREE 11Alive News app now in the iTunes store or on Google Play.

Stay updated on this and other stories by downloading the FREE 11Alive News app now in the iTunes store or on Google Play.


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