Witness believes father not sincere in Georgia hot car death case

A witness testified Wednesday that a Georgia man showed grief after his toddler son died inside a hot SUV, but she didn’t think his tears were sincere.

Atiyka Eastland said Justin Ross Harris’ tears were “on and off” after the death of his 22-month-old son, Cooper, news media outlets reported. Cooper was left for seven hours in a vehicle parked outside the father’s Cobb County workplace. Testifying in the trial’s third day of questioning, Eastland said Harris’ calm demeanor was unusual.

Another witness, Dale Hamilton, testified that Harris’ SUV pulled in front of his car before the father pulled Cooper out of the car seat. Hamilton says a distraught Harris kept asking “What have I done?” while the toddler lay lifeless on the asphalt.

Harris’ lawyer says the witnesses don’t know his client well enough to know his mannerisms.

Prosecutors said Harris intentionally killed Cooper, and have charged him with murder.

Harris’ defense lawyer Maddox Kilgore told the jury in his opening statement Tuesday that Harris is certainly responsible for his son’s death, but insisted it was an accident and Harris committed no crime.

Judge Mary Staley Clark said before testimony began Wednesday that the trial will be put on hold starting at noon Thursday and will reconvene Friday due to Hurricane Matthew, which was heading toward the southern region of the U.S.

The trial is being held in coastal Brunswick, Georgia, which is expected to be in the path of the hurricane. The case was moved 275 miles from the Atlanta suburbs because of pretrial publicity. Harris moved to Georgia from Alabama in 2012.

The Glynn County Board of Commissioners called for a voluntary evacuation of St. Simons island, Jekyll Island, Sea Island and Little St. Simons Island. Clark said she will remain in the St. Simon area throughout the weekend.

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