Georgia's father

For three relentless hours, Ross Harris served as a prosecutor's punching bag, his reputation leveled by one broadside after another.

By the time the recent probable cause hearing was over, he had become one of the nation's most infamous defendants — accused of intentionally leaving his toddler son in a sweltering SUV long enough to die

But, while the public may have made up its mind about the baby-faced IT specialist, charged with felony murder and second-degree cruelty to children, legal experts say the case against him, while solid, is no slam dunk, especially if the charges are upgraded to indicate malice.

"Look at Casey Anthony," said jury consultant Jeri Cagle, referring to the Florida mother found not guilty of killing her 3-year-old daughter despite what prosecutors thought was overwhelming evidence nu skin hk.

Harris, 33, contends he mistakenly left his 22-month-old son Cooper locked in his car seat for seven hours as temperatures inside the 2011 Hyundai Tuscon soared above 130 degrees.

The case has generated headlines worldwide, and with good reason. According to those who track the number of children who have died when left in hot cars, this is the first time a parent or guardian has ever been accused of doing so on purpose.

"This is unprecedented," said Janette Fennell, president and founder of the advocacy group KidsAndCars.org. "I've examined over 700 cases in my career, and I've never heard of this before."

Cobb Assistant District Attorney Chuck Boring said at last week's hearing that evidence presented "has shown this was intentional." However, the charges don't yet reflect that nu skin hk.

Veteran criminal defense attorney Steve Sadow said the defense should push the prosecution to make up its mind on the issue of malice.

"I would want them to take a stand," Sadow said. "And, if they didn't, I'd exploit that. If they can't make up their mind, that indicates they can't prove it."

Upping the charges raises the bar on the prosecution. "I'd be hoping for that if I was the representing him," Sadow said. Charging Harris with intent to kill would make the defense's job a little easier, he said.

By doing so, the prosecution would, in essence, identify Harris as "a monster" without peer, said former DeKalb County District Attorney J. Tom Morgan.

"I don't see any middle ground — he intentionally murdered a child or it's a horrible tragedy," said Morgan, now a defense lawyer. "If they show premeditation, that he intentionally killed that child, then (Cobb District Attorney) Vic Reynolds can do nothing less than seek the death penalty."

And that would present another challenge for the state. Could they prove that Harris — who, according to friends and family, was a doting dad — is a cold-hearted killer willing to let his son suffer one of the worst deaths imaginable?

"You'd almost have to show he was mentally ill, completely devoid of empathy," said Decatur defense lawyer Bob Rubin. "Proving this was a purposeful act is full of hurdles, unless there's a smoking gun out there."

So far, the prosecution's case is almost completely circumstantial, although that's not unusual, said Gwinnett defense attorney Christine Koehler.

"If you push, push and push and then some of this stuff isn't proven, that can really end up making the prosecution look bad," she said, adding that, if Harris goes to trial, a change of venue is almost inevitable.

Ironically, the prosecution's testimony about Harris' sexting habits — alleging he was engaged in up to six different illicit chats with women he met online on the day of his son's death — may end up helping the defense.

"They could argue that the sexting, something he was apparently very heavily involved in, was a distraction," Rubin said. "Clearly, he wasn't thinking about his son that day because he was so obsessed with women."

Ultimately, the most important part of the trial may well be picking a jury. Finding open-minded jurors won't be easy nuskin hk, said Cagle, who's been advising lawyers through the process for 20 years.

In this case, the defense will be looking for a mix of skeptics who tend to distrust the herd mentality and optimists who simply can't fathom someone subjecting their child to such a horrific death, Cagle said.

Of course, the prosecution is still building its case; Cobb Police Detective Phil Stoddard said investigators have just "scratched the surface."

Sadow said he believes the defense faces an uphill battle.

Forgetting your child is in his car seat less than five minutes after putting him there will be a tough sell, he said. And Harris' admission that, five days before his son's death, he watched an online video about what happens to a child when left inside a hot car may prove too coincidental for jurors to accept.

"All the circumstances in this case, considered in their totality, don't leave much room for maneuvering," Sadow said.

Putin in the Olympic Games in Sochi

The Russian president's comments came as a surprise amid widespread criticism of the country's ban on homosexual "propaganda."

SOCHI, Russia - President Vladimir Putin, Ergonomic seating seeking to defuse criticism over his treatment of Russia's gay community, said all people will be welcome in the Black Sea resort of Sochi for the 2014 Winter Olympics.

Triggering angry criticism from the West and even calls to boycott the Sochi games, Russia adopted in June a ban on homosexual "propaganda" among minors, a law denounced by critics as discriminatory and aimed at stifling dissent.

"We are doing everything, both the organizers and our athletes and fans, so that participants and guests feel comfortable in Sochi, regardless of nationality, race or sexual orientation" Putin told Thomas Bach, the head of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), on an inspection visit in Sochi on Monday.

The remark came unexpectedly from Putin, who says there is no discrimination against gays in Russia which decriminalized homosexuality in 1993.

But gay people are often blamed for not helping overcome Russia's demographic problems and face ostracism from the resurgent Orthodox Church, which has fostered increasingly close ties with the Kremlin during Putin's 13-year rule.

Bach made no public mention of the issue, offering praise for Russia's preparations for the Olympics.

Russia is spending more than $50 billion on the February Games, a top priority for Putin who wants to use it to showcase the country's modern face to the world two decades after the fall of the Soviet Union.

"We are fully confident that the Games will be on a magnificent level," Bach said in his first comments about Russia's readiness for the Games.

"Sochi and the whole region completed a very big, successful development journey and we have been deeply impressed with this path g-suite cardinal manchester," he said in comments translated from German into Russian as he sat next to Putin, a fluent German speaker.

The praise must have been music to Putin's ears since he has staked his reputation on the success of the Games. He said Russia needed a final push to finish off preparations with just over three months before the Games open on Feb. 7.

"Now that the overwhelming majority of sites are almost ready, there's a final push left, we need to accomplish this final milestone," Putin said.

"We need to prepare everything once and for all."

During a previous inspection of the Olympic venues last month, Putin urged officials to overcome failures and delays in preparatory works.

Olympic preparations have been marred by over-running costs and delays and organizers have faced criticism from rights groups over the treatment of migrant workers engaged in large-scale construction works.

Moscow is also trying to head off potential security threats in Sochi, a few hundred kilometers from the volatile North Caucasus region where Russia is struggling to quell a persistent Islamist insurgency.

A deadly suicide bombing in southern Russia on Oct.21, blamed on a Muslim woman from the North Caucasus, highlighted increased security risks in proximity to the mountainous region.

The Russian parliament has toughened punishments for those who take part in military conflicts abroad as officials estimate up to 400 people have left Russian territory to fight along with the international jihadists in Syria.


Bach urged Russia to brace itself for tough competition during the event which will challenge not only Russia's organisational skills but also its confidence in its sporting standing nuskin hk.

"When the Olympic flame will be burning at the Olympic stadium, it is up to you, because the success of Olympic Games also very much depends on the success of the home team," Bach told Putin.

Russia came 11th in the medal standings at the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver, with host Canada, Germany and the United States topping the list.

The Kremlin, disappointed with the result, pledged billions in investments and upgrades of Russia's winter sports infrastructure in preparation for the Sochi Games.

But Putin said he did not want medals to restore the country's former glory as a leading sports power.

"Great sports achievements are not a question of prestige and ambitions to us - the link between records in sports and (promoting) popular sports are evident," he said.


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