COBB COUNTY, Ga. – Despite all the circumstantial evidence seemingly building against the father charged in his son's hot car death, the defense attorney said he's "encouraged" after Thursday's hearing.
Justin Ross Harris is charged with murder and second-degree cruelty to a child in the death of his 22-month-old son, Cooper. The boy died on June 18 after he was left in his father's SUV for seven hours as temperatures outside rose to 88 degrees.
During a probable cause and bond hearing on Thursday, Cobb County Detective Phil Stoddard went into great detail on circumstantial evidence against Harris.
Still, Harris' attorney Maddox Kilgore was upbeat following the hearing.
"We're going to roll our sleeves up, we're going to look at the discovery and get to work," Kilgore said.
While Kilgore wouldn't directly talk about the evidence presented in court, it was clear from the defense witnesses that Kilgore will try to show Harris really was a good father, despite personal problems and marital problems, and even a good parent can get distracted in a flash and forget his child is in the car.
"We forget things in a moment," Kilgore said. "I can't think of how many times I've had my leftovers boxed up and went to the bar and forgot them. We forget things."
That comparison raised some eyebrows, including those of Georgia State University Law Professor Jessica Gabel.
"How could somebody forget that? I think the defense made a mistake in presenting to the judge by likening it to leftovers at a restaurant," Gabel said.
Gabel said Maddox will have a tough time getting jurors to ignore evidence about Harris sexting while his son dying was in the car.
"It makes it incredibly difficult for the defense now to say that he was a church-going father and he loved his son, now that all of that is out there," Gabel said.
The judge ultimately ruled there is probable cause to sustain the charges against Harris, and denied him bond.
"We're ready to get to work," Kilgore said. "Pretty encouraged by a lot of things that went on in there today. Disappointed we didn't get bond, but we'll look at that later."
The door is still open for the state to file additional charges against Harris. His attorney told 11Alive's Jon Shirek that he is convinced Harris is not guilty.