The defense case continues with the cross examination of Leanna Taylor, defense witness #3.
3. Leanna Taylor, Cooper’s mother, ex-wife of Ross Harris
In the continued cross examination, Leanna agreed that her behavior on the video that day seems odd. She admitted that her earlier statement that no one told her where Cooper was is incorrect. Harris was unhappy with his salary at Home Depot and hoped to get hired at Chik-fil-A but he didn’t get the job. Leanna worked as a dietician and had to increase her hours.
Asked about the cruise they were planning and whether it would have been high-end, Leanna said not if she were planning it but yes if Ross were planning it.
ADA Boring asked a series of questions related to Harris’s sexting and other sexual conduct to which Leanna responded to each that she was unaware. Regarding the time in 2012 or 2013 that Harris shut his computer (Leanna believed he was looking at porn), she did not know he was Skyping with another woman.
Leanna now lives in northern Alabama to be near her new boyfriend. She said Harris ruined her life and that she may never trust anyone again. “If I never see him again after this day, that’s fine.”
4. Joey Nesbit, Harrises’ neighbor
Nesbit was friends with the Harrises and would occasionally babysit for Cooper. She saw Harris the day he was taking Cooper to a Braves game, not long before the toddler’s death. She thought the three seemed like the perfect family and had no idea of the other side of Harris. Nesbit spoke to Leanna the day Cooper died; Leanna wasn’t crying.
5. Jason Abdo, former co-worker at Home Depot
Abdo and Harris were co-workers for about two and a half years. Abdo left Home Depot but stayed in touch with Harris as they were discussing a business venture. They abandoned the idea of going into business together following Harris’s arrest. He once asked Harris what it was like having a child. Harris told him that as much as you love music, you love your child 100 times more. He was oblivious to Harris’s other side and had no idea about the sexting and sexual liaisons.
6. Aundrae Brown, former co-worker at Home Depot
Brown and Harris were co-workers for three to four years. Brown is a systems engineer. The two sat near each other at work and were on almost all the same projects. Brown said that web developers cleared cache often; it was not unusual. They used Google Chrome browser but the iPhones issued by Home Depot used Safari. Harris would clear cache there too. (NOTE: Harris had cleared his cache on the day Cooper died. The State is likely to argue that it was to hide something. Brown says it was common for web developers.)
Over time, Harris became less motivated. He was to give a progress report on the morning 9 am calls but started to avoid the calls. There was a project Brown needed Harris to finish and it just wasn’t getting finished. He told Harris to finish it on June 17 but Harris left that day without completing it. Brown said Harris was very forgetful; he’s forget something the two had discussed 15 minutes earlier. Web developers multi-tasked but he believes Harris was simply forgetful. If Harris was working on a personal project at work, he would be violating company policy.
Harris used to show off photos of Cooper all the time, and brought him to the office a few times.
7. Jelani Etienne, former co-worker at Home Depot
Etienne was on the same project development team as Harris. He sat behind Harris and got to know him pretty well. Etienne described Harris’s personality— a lot of chit chat, talk about sports. The day Harris learned that Leanna was pregnant, he was “on cloud nine.” After Cooper was born, Harris talked about him often. Etienne also said that Harris used police jargon a lot. On the day Cooper died, Harris got to work a little late but otherwise seemed normal.
8. Angie Bond, Leanna’s best friend from high school
Leanna and Ross were excited about Cooper’s upcoming birth. Though she no longer cares for Harris because of what he did to her friend, Bond conceded that Harris enjoyed spending time with his son. Bond described a text she received from Leanna on June 18, 2014: “Please pray something bad has happened and nobody will tell me what.” Bond spoke to Leanna later: “Cooper’s gone.” Bond went to Marietta to be with Leanna. She described her as being in a daze in those days after Cooper died. She also said that Leanna fell apart after court yesterday.
Bond was on Good Morning America a few months after Harris’s arrest. She testified that they offered her $1,000 but she refused it. She told GMA that Leanna and Harris had a rocky marriage.
9. Michael Baygents, Ross Harris’s brother
Baygents has been in law enforcement for 20 years. “I think he loved Cooper more than life itself. I’ll never believe anything other than he loved his son more than anything.” Baygents described what others have of Harris—that he would talk to anyone and everyone. He also said that Harris used legal and cop jargon all the time. (NOTE: This is to neutralize the State’s argument that Harris’s comment to detectives that there was no malicious intent in what happened to Cooper was suspicious. To Harris’s brother, it’s just the way Harris talked.) As for the way his brother carried on with other women, Baygents said he was ashamed of him and that what he has learned has been “shocking.”
10. Amy Baygents, Ross Harris’s sister-in-law
Amy Baygents gave brief testimony. She knew there were intimacy problems between Ross and Leanna but she detected nothing wrong with his relationship with his son. She also said that Ross was very inquisitive and would frequently look up things. As for his job at Home Depot, she did not know that Harris was unhappy with it.
11. Deborah Taylor, Leanna’s mother
Taylor would visit with her grandson about twice a month. She saw him in early June 2014. She didn’t believe that the photos of the car seat with a doll in it mimicked the way Cooper fit into the seat. He was a small boy (meaning small for his age). Cooper also fell asleep easily in his car seat.
Court recessed after Taylor’s testimony and will resume tomorrow at 8:30 am ET.
November 2, 2016, Day 19
12. Ryan Henry, former co-worker at Home Depot
Henry is a project contractor at Home Depot from Roswell. He described Harris, a web developer, as a good guy, outgoing, friendly. Henry has two children; he said that he and Harris would talk about their kids—Harris seemed happy to be a father. On a work conference call at 3:30 p.m. on the day Cooper died, Harris and Henry chatted as they waited for others to dial in. It was then that Harris mentioned they were getting ready for Cooper’s birthday party. On cross, Henry admitted that he never met Cooper and that his relationship with Harris was work-based, consisting of work conversations, football and their children.
13. Nathaniel Coyle, attended church with Harris
Coyle knows Harris from church. They attended the Stonebridge Church on the Marietta square. Harris and Leanna were in a small group with the Coyles that would meet every Monday night since January 2013. Eventually these small groups broke into groups by gender. In the men’s group, Harris brought up that he was having problems with pornography; that Leanna had found it on his computer; and asked the men to pray for him. He did not know about prostitutes and sexting.
14. Heather Coyle, wife of Nathaniel, travel agent
Heather knew the Harrises from church and the small group. She also has a travel agency that specializes in trips to the Caribbean and Hawaiian Islands. She went to church with Harris and was in a small group with him there. Heather had helped the Harrises prepare a trip to the Dominican Republic in the past. Harris had mentioned at church one day that he was looking to book a cruise for his family. About a month later, he followed up with an email to her on June 17, 2014, the day before Cooper died. He wanted to book a cruise for nine people. Heather also read from and described an email exchange about the same trip Harris wanted to book for five days to keep costs down. He wrote to her on June 14 and she responded on June 18, 2014 in the morning with various cruise ship options. Harris always responded promptly to her emails but he didn’t respond on June 18, 2014.
15. Michael Simmons, friend of Harris from Louisiana
Simmons met Harris at a high school Bible study in 2000 in Tuscaloosa, AL where both of them were living. Harris is a year or two older. They became close friends and hung out a lot one summer, and moved in with Harris and another guy after he graduated from high school. Simmons was also a groomsman at Ross and Leanna’s wedding. They stayed in touch over the years. Harris was excited when Leanna got pregnant. He told Simmons that he hoped he had a son and planned to name him Cooper. Simmons met Cooper in May 2014 in Tuscaloosa.
Simmons knew nothing of Harris’s sexting or extramarital liaisons. He had no idea there were problems in Harris’s marriage either. He didn’t consider Harris to be a big risk-taker. The man who was consorting with prostitutes and sexting with underage girls was not the man he knew.
14. Heather Coyle, wife of Nathaniel, recalled
She did not leave the building after she last testified. She emailed Harris on the morning of June 18, 2014 at about 9:35 am. In the 28 months since Cooper died, no one from Cobb County PD contacted her. The defense, however, contacted her soon after the death. In Sept. 2016, someone from the DA’s office first contacted her. On cross, she said she was unaware that the police had copies of her emails early on in the case.
16. Billy Kirkpatrick, close friend from Alabama
Kirkpatrick is from Tuscaloosa, Alabama. He works for an organization that serves low-income people with AIDS. Has a PhD in public administration and management; also a degree in psychology. They don’t talk about sexual sin in the church enough but they do in his church. They’re open about asking men to discuss their issues.
Kirkpatrick is a close friend of Michael Simmons, witness #15. Describes how he met Ross and others. They lived in the same apartment complex and became incredibly close. They were groomsmen at each other’s wedding. Harris did some IT work for Kirkpatrick’s AIDS outreach program.
In 2010, Kirkpatrick learned about Harrises issue with pornography but he didn’t know the extent to which he was engaging in other conduct. Then the two of them discussed it but it appears that Kirkpatrick never learned about the extramarital sexual activity. Kirkpatrick became Harris’s “accountability partner” though it wasn’t all that successful. In 2013. Harris told him in an email that he was struggling with pornography. Like another witness, Kirkpatrick said Harris also spoke in police jargon and code.
Court ended early as the defense went through all its available witnesses.