In June 2014, Justin Ross Harris drove to a local Chick-fil-A to grab breakfast with his 22-month-old son Cooper.
Then, instead of dropping Cooper off at daycare, Harris went straight to work, leaving his son strapped in his rear-facing car seat.
As ABC News reports, Cooper was left in his dad's SUV for more than seven hours before his dad realized what he had done.
Now, Harris is facing murder and second-degree child cruelty charges. Prosecutors believe that Harris intentionally left Cooper in his car seat because he “wanted a child-free life.”
Those involved in the trial are looking closely at Harris's bizarre reaction after finding his son dead in the backseat of his SUV.
One witness, James Hawkins, testified that he remembers hearing the tires of Harris's vehicle squeal into a random parking lot on his way home from work, followed by yelling after Harris discovered his son’s lifeless body. However, Harris's demeanor quickly changed when he was placed in handcuffs and put into the back of a police cruiser.
Officer Jacqueline Piper told the court that Harris showed little remorse while in the back of her cruiser and immediately started to complain about how hot it was in her vehicle. Another witness, who was eating at a restaurant nearby where Harris discovered his son, questioned his sincerity after seeing his wide range of emotions.
Both the prosecutors and the defense have videos corroborating Harris's extreme reactions.
Atlanta prosecutor and HLN host Nancy Grace couldn't look past the stark differences between Harris's initial reaction and his demeanor in court. She tells GMA:
“I find it very ironic that Harris started crying during his defenses opening statements, when it's stated over and over and over that when he 'realized' his son was dead and never shed a tear.”
Grace goes on to note how different Harris's reaction to leaving his son's body was to her own reaction when forced to leave her father's body after he passed away:
"Maybe I am projecting. I recently lost my father and I remember being there in the hospital and they said, 'Okay, you can leave now.' It was just something innate, I did not want to leave him.
Justin Ross Harris had no problems leaving his child's body. He left him there and I find that very, very disturbing."
The obvious differences in Grace and Harris's reaction to tragedy may be explained by several studies. The Counseling and Human Development Center at Dartmouth University says that a response to a traumatic situation can differ from person to person.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports that coping styles can vary dramatically. While some people experience denial, shock, sadness, crying, and despair, others can be hyper-alert, vigilant, or even numb after enduring a shocking loss.
As the Counseling and Human Development Center at Dartmouth reports, “it's not unusual to have no reaction at all.”
As the trial continues, Harris's emotions remain at center stage.
It was reported by People Magazine that on Thursday, the prosecution showed the court disturbing photos of Cooper still in his car seat after he passed away.
Harris, as well as two jurors, had to turn their heads at the images.
The trial will resume Monday after a brief recess due to Hurricane Matthew.