Prosecutors Allege Justin Ross Harris Saw Prostitutes Before His Son Was Found Dead in Hot Car

Hot Car Death: Prosecutors Allege Justin Ross Harris Saw Prostitutes
Justin Ross Harris
Kelly J. Huff/Marietta Daily Journal/AP

02/23/2016 AT 08:00 PM EST

Justin Ross Harris, the man accused of murdering his 22-month-old son, Cooper, by leaving him in a hot car, was in court again on Monday, and the prosecution dropped several bombshells during the pretrial hearing.

Among the state's jaw-dropping allegations: that the 34-year-old Georgia man, who allegedly sexted six different females – including one underage girl – on the day his son died, had visited prostitutes in the weeks before Cooper's death.

But Harris' attorney, Maddox Kilgore, downplayed the significance of his client's sexual activity. "It's unrelated, uncharged, completely unconnected," he told the judge.

Prosecutor Chuck Boring disagreed. "Oftentimes," he told the judge, "actions speak a lot louder than words."

It may be Harris's own words that come back to haunt him. Just 10 minutes before locking Cooper in the car, prosecutors say he responded to a woman's online post. "I love my son and all," prosecutors say Harris wrote on the morning of June 18, 2014, "but we both need escapes."

Attorney Kilgore asked the court to rule all evidence of Harris's extramarital affairs as inadmissible.

“In a nutshell, they’re arguing that any explicit sexual communications or acts constitutes evidence of murder,” Kilgore told the judge. “From what we’ve seen, there’s no evidence of him wanting to commit violence, no history of neglect or indifference.”

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The testimony came just 10 days after Harris's wife, Leanna, quietly filed for divorce.

In a filing in Cobb County Superior Court, Leanna Harris said that the couple's saying the couple’s once strong bond is now “irretrievably broken.”

“It is a very sad situation for everyone involved,” family friend Julia Apodaca-Lane told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “This obviously isn’t the place they wanted this to end up, and they have worked very hard to keep it from this.”

The defense did score one small victory in court on Monday: the jury will not hear evidence that Harris had two life insurance policies on Cooper, totally $27,000.

Harris was arrested after he allegedly failed to drop Cooper off at day care and went to his job at Home Depot instead. More than seven hours later, he claimed to have found the toddler still strapped in his car seat, unresponsive. Prosecutors believe he left Cooper in the backseat intentionally, and have charged Harris with eight felony counts, including malice murder, cruelty to children and criminal attempt to commit a felony.

Harris's trial is now scheduled to begin on April 11.
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