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Suspicion mounts against hot car death mom Leanna Harris, lawyer talks

Leanna Harris appears in Cobb County courts for the probable cause hearing of Justin Ross Harris who is facing felony murder charges for the hot car death of their 22-month-old son Cooper Harris.
Leanna Harris appears in Cobb County courts for the probable cause hearing of Justin Ross Harris who is facing felony murder charges for the hot car death of their 22-month-old son Cooper Harris.
Pool In Session.

It is news that does not sit well with Team Mothers of America and everywhere, and only casts more suspicion on a woman who just lost her son in the most talked about hot car death in North America. News broke this week that Leanna Harris, the mother of the 22-month-old hot car death victim in Cobb County, Georgia, has not only 'lawyered up', but left town. Many experts are concurring with the infuriated courts of public opinion, it doesn't look good. As every day passes with more intriguing twists and turns in this case occurring every day, more and more experts are agreeing with the rising shadows of suspicion against Leanna Harris, the mother of the 22-month-old hot car death victim Cooper Harris. USA Today reported on July 11 some additional twists and turns on Friday as some intriguing details about the lawyer Leanna Harris has obtained have come to light.

Leanna Harris under scrutiny
Pool In Session

It was previously reported that Leanna Harris had secured a local criminal defense attorney who was death penalty certified. According to USA Today yesterday, not only is Leanna's lawyer, Lawrence Zimmerman based out of Atlanta, Georgia, death penalty certified, but he has also previously commented publicly about this very case. Shortly after the arrest of Justin Ross Harris for the hot car death of his 22-month-old son, Zimmerman provided expert opinions as a legal analyst for WXIA-TV.

USA Today is also reporting that Zimmerman has stated that now that he is Leanna's counsel, "commenting on the case outside of new duties would be a conflict of interest." At this time, Lawrence Zimmerman's client Leanna Harris has not been charged with any crime.

But the speculation hanging in the air is…this could change any time.

Ken Hodges, a former prosecutor that has worked felony murder cases in the areas off Dekalb County, Cobb County, and Dougherty County, Georgia, told a CBS affiliate yesterday that, "Clearly she's the subject of the investigation."

This is not just another expert, pundit, or talking head commenting on this. Hodges has experience on both sides of the table in this county, the criminal defense side and the prosecution side. He knows Georgia justice and its players well, not just as a former Democratic candidate for Georgia Attorney General, but also as both a former criminal defense attorney and former prosecutor in the Georgia justice system, specifically in Cobb County and its surrounding areas.

Hodges commented to CBS 46 WGCL yesterday about the computer searches specifically,

"With her going on these websites regarding leaving children in cars and if she went on the other websites regarding being a childless parent, those would all be strong indicators she was involved."

At the time of press, Justin Ross Harris is the only person charged in the Cobb County, Georgia, hot car death of his 22-month-old son Cooper Harris. He has been denied bond, and is awaiting a Grand Jury hearing as the next step in this case. Ross Harris alleges that he forgot to drop Cooper Harris at daycare that day, and that he also forgot that he was in the car when he arrived at work that day and left Cooper in the car to die.

It has also been reported that during the 7 hours that Cooper was in that car, his father was allegedly sending nude pictures to as many as 6 other women. Behavior expert Simone Bienne told HLN viewers of Jane Velez Mitchell last night that, "all that says to me, and I've thought about this…he is a psychopath."

Justin Ross Harris is not a great guy, so says the court of public opinion. But in his case, justice for the hot car death of Cooper Harris is being served. He will not see the light of day for a very long time, many are saying for forever, and life will not be good for him in the interim. His fixations and obsessions have been stopped, literally dead in their tracks.

And, if he ever does return to the light of day of society, life will also not be very good for him.

So in this sense, one would think that the buzz on this story would quiet down until that justice could be served. But it has not.


The mother in the story of the hot car death of Cooper Harris has a lot of people talking. Some are even more upset with her than they are with the sordid secret lives of Justin Ross Harris. Leanna Harris has not been charged with any crime, but the circumstantial evidence building against her in the court of public opinion is not good.

There are some that have even been comparing Cooper Harris to Caylee Anthony.

It's the words like "child free living" that Team Mothers of America and Everywhere can't shake. That, and a lot of other things that people just can't wrap their minds around. The reason people are upset is the same reason people were during the Casey Anthony trial, and after the search of Caylee Anthony, during which Mom skipped town and showed evidence of enjoying a "child free" lifestyle.

Statements like, "Did you say too much" and "Ross must have left him in the car" and "If given the chance, I wouldn't ask to have Cooper back" just aren't sitting well with people. In her defense, the most common argument to those complaints about Leanna Harris are that, "everybody grieves differently."

Fair enough.

But when it comes to reacting to tragedies and traumas that occur in our lives, grief counsellors will agree that everybody has their own process. But law enforcement and behavior experts on crime say that humans are not all that unpredictable when it comes to grief and trauma, with the general consensus being, "everybody actually does usually kind of act the same."

We may show it differently and experience it at different rates of progression as the grief counsellors will assert, but many experts in the field of criminology and behavioral science agree that responses to life stressors are very typical across the human spectrum. Law enforcement expects crying, tormented, hysterical, and/or suicidal behaviour when a life trauma is serious enough that it requires emergency or authoritative intervention.

Entire schools of criminal profiling and industries based on non-verbal methods of human behavior have been based on this tenet, that human behaviour across the board is much more predictable than one might think, especially when it comes to grief. The human reaction is so typical in fact that computer technology is being created as you read this to map it, in order to determine if someone is faking their reactions to life stressors.

Just this spring the New York Times reported on ground breaking work happening in the way of computer technology being able to map the human "feeling" experience. Researchers with the University of San Diego, the State University of New York at Buffalo, and the University of Toronto have been working on a biological mapping program that translates into a digital experience of actual human feelings.

With this work what researchers have been trying to do is to teach a computer to pick up the differences between real pain in humans, and deceptive pain in humans. The main tenet in this research is that humans, every human on this planet, has the same biological response to pain. These responses to pain are minute and un-observable to the human eye, but, incredibly enough, can be recorded with significant accuracy with this sensitive computer technology.

In other words, humans think that they are able to observe deception or faked pain easily and quickly, but are often incorrect. The true cues to deception or faked pain are much more microscopic than what we can detect, but can be detected with significant accuracy with this new research in biological computer technology. It is very much like a polygraph, except instead of capturing what your heart does when you deceive someone, it measures those feelings that you have absolutely no control over.

Consider it the twenty-first century polygraph, because this is what this technology is specifically been developed as, for industries where human intelligence gathering is required. The computer has a name, it is CERT, for Computer Expression Recognition Toolbox reported to have an accuracy in the 85% range in detecting those minute un-observable behaviorisms humans show. These are cues that humans miss 100% of the time, and are picked up by CERT 85% of the time.

Lead on the study Marian Bartlett a professor with the Institute for Neural Computation based in San Diego, California, says that, about the human perception of pain "we have a fair amount of evidence to show that humans are paying attention to the wrong cues."

We know Justin Ross Harris will be held accountable whether he is showing us fake pain or real pain at this moment in time. But the pain that Leanna is showing the world, or lack thereof, is not sitting well with people. Is it possible that our human eyes are just perceiving things incorrectly?

What would this computer software pick up about Leanna Harris? What do you think the chances are that she would agree to be a participant in the next study on it?

People want to see Leanna Harris experiencing real pain over the death of her son. We are not seeing that. We are hearing statements like, "if I had the chance I would not bring Cooper back".

People want to see Leanna Harris fighting for justice for her son, justice for Cooper Harris. We are not seeing this. One reader tweeted a direct message to the Toronto Relationships Examiner,

"What I do not understand seriously is why that lady is not staked out on the steps of the court or driving those investigators crazy with phone calls to fight for that kid. What I do not understand is why she isn't the next mother screaming at the Supreme Court for new legislation called Coopers Law to make sure reckless and endangering people are upheld to the fullest extent of the law for their outrageous stupidity. I'm sorry I know she's not charged, but that don't mean anything. I see nothing innocent about how she is behaving. That poor blessed baby had nobody fighting for him, and still don't."

A former law enforcement officer and now private investigator for the Niagara Region also told the Toronto Relationships Examiner,

"There's a day we all dread at work, and that's when we have to call a Mama and give her bad news. I don't care what anybody says, when that happens, every Mama acts the same way. Nobody wants to be there. We know that moment will be remembered forever, we all hate it. Truth is, we never forget it either…...I wasn't there on the day that Mrs. Harris was notified but from what I have seen so far….her behaviour is not…well typical is not the word I would use, let's just say that."

It may be that speculations like this are the very reasons that Leanna Harris hired death penalty certified criminal defense attorney Lawrence Zimmerman. She may also have hired him based on public comments that he has already made in the case, about her husband specifically, and also about the alleged cheating that may or may not have occurred on the day that Cooper died.

Detective Stoddard did testify at the probable cause hearing that Justin Ross Harris had a "double life" and that nude pictures were exchanged with Justin Ross Harris on the day that Cooper Harris died. About the alleged secret double life of Justin Ross Harris, USA Today reported yesterday that defense lawyer Lawrence Zimmerman has downplayed the entire thing. According to USA Today Zimmerman said,

"We don't know if he had any conversations with anybody. If he was in a chat room saying I want to get rid of my wife, I want to get rid of my child."

It's natural, from the perspective of a criminal defense attorney, to downplay that cheating. And it is important in this case.
It is important for Lawrence Zimmerman, especially now that he is defending Leanna Harris, to downplay the cheating. The cheating has been a central point in this case, and the discovery of that cheating is when this case turned for the courts of public opinion. A key question around the cheating is, when did Leanna discover it?

Did she discover it at the same time we all did? She seems pretty stoic for someone that did, but, everybody reacts differently.

Or, did she discover it around…May? According to one of Leanna's church friends, Leanna always wanted to have a gaggle of children, but this tone changed when she was questioned about it in May of this year.

When she told one of her church friends that her dream of having an even number of kids "wouldn't be happening any time soon". When she reported the "intimacy issues" early on in the investigation of this case, what was she really referring to?

Did Leanna's discovery of the cheating occur around the same time that the "hot car death" searches began occurring on her computer?

Or, did she discover it at the exact same time that we did, and is simply reacting in her own unique way?

One thing is certain. Nobody wants to believe that two people colluded and conspired to kill that beautiful baby boy. What people are talking and angry about are the manifestations of their greatest fears, based on what they have seen in this case thus far.

But nobody wants that to be the result. The world is hoping that in the end, all that will be discovered is that this will all be the result of some "outrageous stupidity" and that all accountable will be held accountable. So far, that is happening for Justin Ross Harris.

In the case of Leanna Harris, she is currently not facing any charges, and despite what everybody is arguing about most people are desperately hoping for the sake of that beautiful child, that it remains that way. And hopefully she is telling the truth, for the sake of that beautiful child.

Hopefully she is for her sake as well, because if she isn't, another step in her story may include having to prove to a judge that she is not a flight risk.

What do you think?

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