The hot car death of Cooper Harris that occurred in Cobb County, Georgia, on June 18 is a story that has captivated the international news. Sadly, it is not the only hot car death that has hit the airwaves this summer, but it is one that appears to have a myriad of grisly details surfacing every day that present damaging and compelling evidence against the father who is being accused of felony murder. Justin Ross Harris, father of 22-month-old Cooper Harris may even be facing the death penalty after this tragic hot car death. But was it just an accident as he claims? After a probable cause hearing on Thursday July 3, the State is alleging that a large portion of their case is resting on computer forensics that paint a picture of Justin Ross Harris that is anything but that of a loving and doting husband and father as he claims. According to HLN TV on July 5, the computer forensic evidence that is just starting to leak out against the accused and the relationships in the middle of this case, centers around the notion that Cooper’s father was reportedly sexting many women from his office in Home Depot, while his son was dying in his car. This grim news comes just one day after the New York Daily News reported on a Twitter cheating study, suggesting that Justin Ross Harris is not the only person on the planet using technology in a way that causes irreparable damage to existing relationships.
We live in a day and an age where instant sexual gratification is only as far away as our smartphone. For many, this causes no harm, and creates no cost for those who enjoy the simple pleasures that come with having a lover as close as a text or a tweet away. But can Justin Ross Harris say the same?
His need for instant gratification has come at great costs. Cooper Harris lost his life in a hot car death that has rocked the nation. Justin Ross Harris may also lose his wife, and he will probably lose his good paying job in the head office of Home Depot. As the world reads this story, many can’t help but wonder, if Justin Harris wasn’t sexting that day, would Cooper Harris be alive today?
HLN TV reports on July 5 that Justin Ross Harris is being charged with felony murder, and may be facing the death penalty. HLN also reports that the State is alleging that a large body of evidence against Justin Harris involves computer forensics. Prosecutors for the State alleged that Harris was sexting many women on the day that Cooper Harris died, with one of them being a 17-year-old woman.
But that isn’t the only evidence against him to date. Prosecutors also provide Judge Frank Cox with a series of testimony that highlighted Internet searches. Among those searches were searches that include “how to survive life in prison”, in addition to “how long an animal could be left in a hot car” before death. HLN is also reporting that the mother of the victim reportedly also performed similar searches regarding a hot car death prior to the death of her son.
More relationships involved in this grim story are likely to surface once the computer forensics analysis has been completed. Law enforcement have seized the family computer, Justin’s iPhone, and will also be looking at the computer he used in his office at Home Depot, where he was sexting on the day that Cooper Harris died. One can’t help but wonder, what other sordid relationship information are we going to see once this analysis is complete?
11 Alive NBC for Atlanta has stated that the computer forensics will play a large role in determining this case. 11 Alive NBC has explained that computer forensics is a tricky business. In world of incognito Google Chrome searches and a delete button, hiding evidence isn’t as easy as it may seem. Deleting something you did wrong online, may not be enough to excuse you of your behavior, if what you did can be connected to criminal activity.
Justin Ross Harris, a former website manager and developer “knows his way around a computer” according to 11 Alive NBC. Law enforcement does as well, which is how they were able to uncover what is being reported as the “double life” of Justin Harris. 11 Alive NBC reports on some of the testimony centered around the computer forensics of this case.
Cobb County prosecutor Chuck Boring questioned Detective Phil Stoddard about this potential evidence. He asked, “Have you guys done examinations on these computers?” Detective Stoddard replied, “We have.” Prosecutor for the State then asked, “Are you finished with your examination of these computers?” A question to which Stoddard replied, “We’ve only scratched the surface.”
11 Alive NBC is also reporting that the 3 computers Harris had access to have been confiscated and that law enforcement is alleging that, “it’s clear he was covering his tracks in all of them.”
Prosecutor Chuck Boring reportedly asked Detective Stoddard of Cobb County, GA, “Based upon your review of these computers and other devices he’s had contact with, is it obvious that he’s deleted some of the things and from cross referencing these phones and items?” To this question Stoddard replied, “Yes.”
While we have not seen all of the evidence presented against the accused yet, this was only a probable cause hearing, the evidence was damaging enough for Judge Frank Cox to deny bail and use the word “death penalty”. Justin Ross Harris will remain in prison until his trial. Justin has also plead not guilty to all of the charges against him.
It is important to remember that fact, that Justin Harris has not been found to be guilty of any crime, that there is at this point only enough evidence to detain him until he receives his due process of a fair trial. While it is very damaging evidence, and there will likely be much more in regards to Justin’s double life and the relationships that he was carrying on, that does not at this point make him a murderer.
This evidence may paint him as a bad father, and a terrible husband, but to date, he has only been charged with and accused of murder. He has not been found guilty.
Coincidentally, this evidence has come to light just a day after the New York Daily News reported on a study that suggests Justin Ross Harris isn’t the only person in America using technology to cause irreparable damage to relationships. The New York Daily News reported on a study appearing in the Journal of Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking that centered around infidelity on the social media site known as Twitter. This study titled “The Third Wheel: The Impact of Twitter Use on Relationship Infidelity and Divorce” found that,
“Active Twitter use leads to greater amounts of Twitter related conflict among romantic partners, which in turn leads to infidelity, breakup, and divorce.”
This study from this literary journal isn’t the first of its kind. The journal previously published a study on their Facebook findings, showing similar results. The end finding and relevant meaning from all of this?
Heavy social media use and use of Twitter leads to conflict, and “other damaging effects on marriages and romantic relationships” according to the New York Daily News.
Author of the study, a Doctorate candidate and researcher in the Journalism School of the University of Missouri, Russell Clayton has said that there is a wide body of evidence illustrating “social network uses dark side for personal relationships.” Clayton previously found that heavy Facebook usage is also linked to “negative relationship outcomes”.
In this study, a total of 581 Twitter users over the age of 18 were profiled, with reports being that the more one individual used Twitter, the more likely there were to “experience Twitter-related conflict with a partner.”
For Justin Ross Harris, technology related conflict may have cost his son his life. If you feel that social media use, or technology use is impacting your relationships as well, know that you are not as alone as you feel. It is grisly news that does not provide much hope for the faithful ones in relationships, as it appears in an era where many forsake their own personal moral compass to find instant gratification that is only as far away as their smart phone.
This is even grimmer news for the Harris family, who are likely very concerned about what the results of the computer forensics in this case are going to reveal.
Do you believe that Cooper Harris would be alive today if his father wasn’t sexting multiple women as has been alleged? Has social media use or technology impacted your relationship in a negative way? How, and what have you done about it?