Shocking Detective Testimony @ Probable Cause & Bond Hearing: Statement & Body Language Analysis of Justin Ross Harris in Hot Car Death of Son Cooper

Micro-Expression of Contempt
Micro-Expression of Leaked Contempt



Cobb County, GA, Detective Phil  Stoddard
Cobb County Georgia Police Detective Phil Stoddard


Chief Magistrate Judge
:  Frank Cox

Assistant District Attorney:  Chuck Boring

Police Detective:  Phil Stoddard

Case:  The State v. Justin Ross Harris

Defendant:  Justin Ross Harris

Deceased: 22 month old son Cooper Harris

Charges:  Felony Murder and 2nd Degree Cruelty to a Child

Event:  Probable Cause and Bond Hearing

Location:  Cobb County Georgia Magistrate Court

Date:  Thursday, July 3, 2014

Watch Headline News Video Clip:

Micro-Expression of Contempt
Micro-Expression of Contempt

Attorney Chuck Boring, “Did Justin take Cooper out to the car?”

In the above photo, JH flashed an asymmetrical micro-expression of contempt upon hearing this question. Micro-expressions are extremely brief involuntary facial expressions that leak out the true emotions of the individual. The smirk of contempt is a “hot-spot” indicator that JH is sensitive to, or disturbed by, this question. Or, he is showing his dislike for the district attorney. 

What appears to be lacking are genuine facial expressions of grief, devastation, shock, over the death of his baby boy…or even remorse and guilt for what he claims was an accident of leaving little Cooper strapped in the baby carseat during his daddy’s work shift with temperatures over 88 degrees.


Baby Cooper Harris
Baby Cooper Harris

Detective PS, “…he (JH) put Cooper in the vehicle…he (JH) stated he strapped him (Cooper) in tight…”

It is interesting that in this testimony, Justin Ross Harris used the descriptive phrase, ‘strapped him (Cooper) in tight.’  Every word has its value and importance, especially the word ‘tight.’  Why was it important for JH to put Cooper in the seat ‘tight?’ 

Did JH want to make certain Cooper could not struggle loose, free himself, and escape from the baby car seat while:

  1. being left unattended by his daddy JH,
  2. overheating inside his family’s hot SUV for over 7 hours with outside Georgia temperatures around 88 degrees, and then
  3. ultimately dying?

JH could have just said a shorter sentence, “I put Cooper in the child seat…” with the implied understanding that parents safely secure their children to the seats without having to say the word ‘tight.’

PS, “…Cooper gives him a kiss and he (JH) gives him a kiss back. And he (JH) says he always gives him a kiss in case they get into a car accident and he dies…”

This is also an unusual and morbid thought, as this sentence indicates that JH was thinking about death as he secured Cooper ‘tight’ in the car baby seat.

It would be more common for parents to kiss their babies because they love them, and less common (even rare) for parents to kiss their babies because…‘in case he dies.’

PS, “…he (JH) wanted Cooper to…his last memory…or Cooper to remember that he’d been loved…Or, that his daddy loved him…”

If JH said this as described, then JH leaked past-tense words (‘last memory…, ‘he’d been loved…’ or ‘daddy loved him’) to predict the future event and eventual outcome of Cooper’s death.

 Leanna Harris

CB, “Let’s talk a little bit about his wife and the statement that she gave.  When, since she was supposed to show up at the Day Care…”

Wife Leanna Harris is in the courtroom listening and chewing gum during Phil Stoddard’s testimony.  Chewing gum is a body language pacifying habit that people do to relieve stress or boredom.  Chewing gum activates the salivary glands to produce more saliva in order to soothe a dry mouth.

Chewing gum may be her normal baseline behavior.  Or, she may subconsciously attempting to relieve stress by chewing gum.

Leanna’s facial muscles and expressions also appear to be lacking reasonable emotions of grief, anger, sadness, or emotional pain. 

PS, “…she (LH) walked into the daycare and she walked back to Cooper’s classroom…she ran into Michelle…

Leanna Harris takes a big sigh, deep breath in, and then slowly breathes out air.  At this moment, her air puffing is a shift in her courtroom behavior and reflects LH’s sensitivity or stress to the topic, especially if she did not expect this line of questioning.

PS, “and she (daycare staff Michelle) asked, ‘why are you doing here?’…”

PS, “(LH), “Well, I’m here to pickup Cooper.”

Notice police detective Phil Stoddard switches from using past-tense testimony to now using present-tense running dialog to describe the direct quotes and banter between Leanna Harris and daycare worker Michelle as if the two women were talking to each other.

People who tell the truth can easily state from memory the actual narrative from each person at the scene as if the event were running LIVE…like a movie stream.

PS, “…and (daycare staff), ‘like Ross never dropped Cooper off…’

PS, “…and she (LH) got really calm…and she was like…, ‘I don’t know what to do…’ ”

PS, “They walk back into the lobby and in front of several witnesses, all of a sudden she (LH) states, ‘Um…

PS, ” ‘Ross must’ve left him in the car…’ “

PS, “and they (daycare staff) were like, ‘What?'”

PS, “(LH), ‘There’s no other reason…Ross must’ve…no other explanation excuse me…Ross must’ve left him in the car.’ “

PS now furrows his center eyebrows to show the perplexed reaction from the daycare staff to such a bizarre, unexpected, statement from the mother Leanna.

PS, “and they (daycare staff) tried to console her (LH).

PS, ” ‘No! There’s a thousand reasons. He could’ve taken him to lunch or something.  We don’t know yet.’ “

PS, “She (LH) was like, ‘No.’ “

Detective Phil Stoddard emphasized the word ‘No’ with direct certainty from Leanna Harris.

During this passage, he showed calm voice tone, natural speed, and fluidity in his testimony, especially about the dialogue between Leanna Harris and the daycare workers. It sounded as if we were listening to the narrative of the event as it unfolded.

Stoddard did not appear guarded with awkward hesitations, pauses, or long-winded non-answers that would indicate deception or his needing more time to think about how he should answer the questions asked.

CB, “At some point did you put the defendent and his wife in the same room together?

At this point, Leanna Harris once again takes a big sigh, deep breath in, and then slowly breathes out air suggesting that this is another “Hot-Spot” sensitive topic for her.

PS, “I did.”

CB, “When you did that, who was it that got emotional?”

PS, “The father.”

CB, “And could you tell the judge what was he being emotional about? What was the main thing he was crying about…or sobbing about…?”

PS, “It was all about him.”  

JH is not devastated about the death of his baby son Cooper who suffered a horrific death from extreme heat inside the family SUV as a result of JH’s own actions. 

Stoddard turns and faces the judge directly indicating his open willingness to answer the question truthfully. 

PS, “um…(JH), ‘I can’t believe this is happening to me…you know, I can’t believe this is happening to me [PS placed his left hand to his chest as he demonstrates JH’s gesture during this dialogue] …(JH), I can’t believe, you know, this is happening to me.  Why am I being punished for this?’ “

PS turns to look at attorney CB, “It continued. It was all very one-sided.”

As the trial progresses, it will be interesting to find out through court psychiatric evaluations and psychological testing if JH meets clinical criteria for being a Antisocial/Psychopathic type (i.e., previously, called sociopath or psychopath). 

One of the leading experts in the research of psychopaths and the author of the book Without Conscience,  Dr. Robert Hare, developed the following “Psychopath’s Check List, Revised” which criminal courts use for determining whether the defendant meets criteria for being a psychopath.

  • Glib and superficial charm
  • Grandiose self worth
  • Need for stimulation, prone to boredom
  • Pathological lying
  • Conning and manipulating
  • Lack of remorse or guilt
  • Shallowness of expressions
  • Callousness, lack of empathy
  • Parasitic lifestyle
  • Poor behavioral controls
  • Promiscuous sexual behavior
  • Early behavioral problems such as lying, fire setting, stealing etc.
  • Lack of realistic long-term goals
  • Impulsivity
  • Irresponsibility
  • Failure to accept responsibility for own actions
  • Many short-term marital relationships
  • Juvenile delinquency, crimes and acting out between the ages of 13-18
  • Revocation of Conditional Release
  • Criminal versatility

CB, “Did his wife ever say anything to him about what he said the police?”

JH displays a frown with both corners of his mouth pulled downward.

PS, She asked him…um, she had him sit down

JH closes both eyes slowly to ‘block-out’ what he does not want to continue hearing, seeing, and experiencing in court.  

PS, “and he starts going through this. And she looks at him and she’s like…”

PS, “(LH), ‘…did you say too much?’ “

CB, “Did you uncover anything about what he was doing during that day while the child was out here in the car?”

PS, “Yes.”

JH lifts up his chin as a sign of superiority or defiance he prepares to hear PS’s reply to the attorney’s question.

PS, “He was having…um..up to 6 different conversations with…um…different women it appeared from the message from Kick (sp?), mostly which is a messaging service.”

CB, “Is that a computer messaging service?”

PS, “It is.”

CB, “And these conversations that he was having with these females…were these…of what nature were they?”

PS, “The most common term would be ‘sexting.’ “

CB, “Were photos being sent back and forth between the females and the defendant during the day while the child was out in the car?”

PS, “Yes.  There are photos of his expose penis, erect penis…”

PS turns to face and look at the judge.

PS, “…being sent and there were also photos of women’s breasts being sent back to him.”

CB, “He talks about being a guitar player with this girl and did she ask him a question about his conscience?”

PS, “She did.”

CB, “What did she ask him?”

JH’s defense attorney objected to the questions, citing relevance. The Judge overruled and allowed the final question and answer…

PS, “She says something to the effect of, ‘Do you have a conscience?’ “

CB, “And what was his (JH’s) response?”

PS, “Nope.”

The reported lack of conscience for cheating on his wife and the lack of conscience for causing the death of his baby boy are the signature traits of having antisocial (i.e., psychopath) personality disorder.  

In addition, his illicit sexting behavior may give an indication of compulsive hypersexuality or what is commonly known as sexual addiction. 

Overall, Harris maintained his composure throughout detective Phil Stoddard’s testimony.  Self-proclaimed, Harris wrote he is a ‘harmless’ guy.  However, his previous “I’m ‘harmless’ ” text statements to women and his outward appearance may be hiding secrets of his true personality.  

“From Head-to-Toes, the BODY Always Shows…the TRUTH!”

Janette Ghedotte

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5 thoughts on “Shocking Detective Testimony @ Probable Cause & Bond Hearing: Statement & Body Language Analysis of Justin Ross Harris in Hot Car Death of Son Cooper

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