ATLANTA -

Surprising claims came to light during a hearing Thursday for a Georgia man whose toddler son died after being left in a hot car, a man prosecutors sought to portray as an unfaithful husband who wanted a child-free life.

Among the most shocking allegations: Justin Ross Harris messaged six women, sending and receiving explicit texts -- some including nude images -- from work while his 22-month-old was dying, a detective testified at the hearing.

Harris' attorney repeatedly objected to Cobb County, Georgia, police Detective Phil Stoddard's testimony claiming that Harris sexted the women -- one of whom was underage at the time -- but the judge allowed it.

The detective also testified that Harris had visited a Reddit page called "child-free" and read four articles. He did an Internet search on how to survive in prison, Stoddard said.

Police say Harris, 33, left his toddler, Cooper, strapped into a car seat under a baking sun for seven hours while he went to work June 18. Records show that the mercury topped 92 that day, and police say the temperature was 88 degrees when the boy was pronounced dead in a parking lot not far from his father's workplace.

At the hearing, Cobb County Chief Magistrate Frank Cox found probable cause for the case against Harris to go forward with respect to the murder and child cruelty charges.

"For him to enter the car ... when the child had been dead and rigor mortis had set in, and the testimony is the stench in the car was overwhelming at that point in time, that he -- in spite of that -- got in the car and drove it for some distance before he took any action to check on the welfare of his child, I find there is probable cause for the two charges contained in the warrant," Cox said before a packed courtroom.

The judge denied bail for Harris, who has pleaded not guilty.

In addition to the charges he faces in connection with his son's death, Harris may also be charged with felony sexual exploitation of a minor and misdemeanor illegal contact with a minor, Stoddard said.

'I felt his pain; I even wept'


Stoddard recounted witnesses telling police that Harris was acting erratically when he pulled into a shopping center asking for assistance with his son.

Witnesses told police they heard "squealing tires, and the vehicle came to a stop," Stoddard testified. Harris got out of the car yelling, "Oh, my God, what have I done?" Stoddard said.

The 33-year-old father then stood there with a blank look on his face, the detective said. When a witness told Harris his son needed CPR, Harris went to the other side of his vehicle and made a phone call, apparently to tell someone his son was dead, a witness told police, according to Stoddard.

Harris never called 911, and when an officer told him to get off his phone, he refused and even said, "F*** you" before an officer took his phone and handcuffed him, the detective said.

Witness Leonard Madden and an acquaintance were leaving a restaurant when they noticed a commotion and approached within 3 or 4 feet of a clearly distraught Harris.

"He was crying. He was hollering," Madden testified, recounting the father saying, "Oh, my God! Oh, my God, my son is dead!"

"I felt his pain; I even wept," he said.

According to Stoddard, Harris later made statements that police felt were strange, including "I can't believe this is happening to me" and "I'll be charged with a felony."

"It was all about him," Stoddard said. "'Why am I being punished for this?' It continued. It was all very one-sided."

Harris also talked about losing his job, he said.

The detective alleged that Harris told police he couldn't reach anyone on his telephone, but phone records show that Harris made three calls after he discovered his son's body, and one between him and his employer lasted six minutes, Stoddard said.