Defense attorney Maddox Kilgore asked for a mistrial in the Ross Harris Hot Car Death Trial Thursday morning after the jury returned to the courtroom following their examination of the SUV where 22-month-old Cooper Harris died in June 2014.
Kilgore said the examination was put together in such a way that it would completely bias the jury against Harris, ensuring that the defendant would not receive a fair trial. He said, what happened could "not be undone."
"We've got this objective evidence that his (Ross Harris') head was above the roof, he never leaned into the car, his head never came into the car and he never looked back," Kilgore said.
The attorney pointed out that the jurors vary in height, and that they bent down and not only peered into the car, but looked into the rear of the car where the car seat was, which, he said, would have been entirely different from that of Ross Harris in any way, shape or form.
"So what we're left with is exactly what I warned the court about months ago when this first came up," Kilgore said. "Jurors have been given free reign to substitute their viewpoint for the evidence."
Kilgore went on.
"I think it has completely messed the trial up; I think he is going to be denied a fair trial," he said. "I don't think it can be undone. I'm asking for a mistrial."
"Quite the production," prosecutor Chuck Boring, Cobb County District Attorney, said. "Much like the defense walking around the edge to get around the car and through the crime scene when we started."
"You granted this view months ago," Boring said. "It was discussed where it would be; It was discussed when it would be, now the defense does not want to give input. What the defense is also missing is that this is something that occurred over the entire day. The jury was allowed to go and look at this piece of evidence -- to look inside. To see what the defendant saw when he was riding with the child. To see where the car seat was located in a real environment. To see where the driver was located in a real environment."
Boring points out that the car itself is a piece of evidence.
"What they're doing is examining a piece of evidence in this case," he said. "Judge, I think it was handled completely appropriately and professionally, and the defense is trying to engineer error by 'nanny-nanny-boo-boo, we don't want to participate and give any suggestions, but now that it's happened, we're gonna ask for a mistrial.'"
"I'm not certain he addressed a single word I said," Kilgore said in his redirect. "This has been a complete disaster, Judge. There's no way around it. He has absolutely denied a fair trial. There is no other option but a mistrial."
Judge Mary Staley paused a moment before ruling.
"The vehicle is evidence in the case," she said. "The jury has a right to look at every piece of evidence in their jury room in their deliberations. The vehicle is too large to bring into their jury room. This is the only opportunity they have to look at it."
She looked exasperated.
"It is an exhibit in the case, and they have a right to look at it along with all the other evidence of the case. There was not a re-creation. It was a very structured -- and limited -- opportunity for the jurors to inspect an item of evidence relevant to their task and their job as a jury to evaluate the evidence, apply the law, and render a verdict that speaks the truth to this case. Therefore, I deny the defendant's motion for a mistrial."
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