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Hot car death 'never planned' by father

Justin Ross Harris in court Image copyright AP
Image caption Justin Ross Harris denies murder

A man accused of killing his young son by leaving him in a hot car was responsible for the boy's death but it was not intentional, a court has heard.

Justin Ross Harris wept as his lawyer argued the tragedy in Georgia two years ago was due to a change of routine.

Mr Harris forgot Cooper was in the back seat of his SUV that morning because he had usually dropped him off at nursery by that time, the court heard.

On Monday, the prosecution said the defendant plotted to kill his son.

He planned the tragedy because he wanted to leave the family to continue affairs with other women, the court heard.

But the defence team attempted to dispel that notion while admitting the death of the 22-month-old toddler was the father's fault.

"Ross Harris is responsible for his child's death. It's his fault, no doubt about it," Maddox Kilgore told the jury in his opening statement.

"What you're going to see here at this trial is that being responsible is not the same thing as being a criminal."

Cooper died after being left for seven hours in the vehicle as it was parked outside his father's place of work, a Home Depot office on the outskirts of Atlanta.

Image copyright Facebook
Image caption Justin Ross Harris and his son, Cooper

Mr Harris told police he had taken his son to breakfast and given him a kiss while putting him into the back of the car afterwards. But then he drove to work and forgot he was still in the car.

It was a break of the routine to take him to breakfast - usually he ate after taking his son to nursery.

As the events that day were related in court, the defendant dabbed his eyes with a tissue.

Mr Kilgore said: "His sexual behaviour isn't some kind of motive to murder the person he loved more than anyone in the world."

The children left behind in hot cars

On the contrary, the defendant was planning a future with his family and looking to move to a bigger home, the court was told.

A video shown to the court on Tuesday depicts Mr Harris in the immediate aftermath of the tragedy, pacing up and down and screaming.

One police officer gave evidence to say Mr Harris snapped when police asked him to stop using his mobile phone, and complained when handcuffed in the police car.

While the prosecution team argued the evidence indicated that Mr Harris was unemotional, the defence lawyers said it showed he was clearly distressed by what had happened.

Mr Harris is charged with malice murder and with sending sexually explicit text messages and photos to an underage girl.

The case continues.

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