Jury selection starts again in Georgia hot-car child death trial

September 12, 2016 11:41 AM EDT

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By Rich McKay

ATLANTA (Reuters) - Jury selection began on Monday for the second time this year in the murder trial of a Georgia man who prosecutors say intentionally left his toddler son to die in a hot car in June 2014 while the father exchanged nude photos with women online.

The first attempt to seat a jury to hear the case against Justin Ross Harris failed after three weeks last spring, with some potential jurors calling him a pervert and one saying he should "rot in hell."

Judge Mary Staley Clark agreed that Harris, 35, could not get a fair trial in the same suburban Atlanta community where his 22-month-old son Cooper died after being left for seven hours in a locked SUV outside the father's workplace.

The judge moved the proceedings 300 miles away to the coastal city of Brunswick, Georgia, in an effort to find impartial jurors to hear the case.

She spent much of Monday interviewing more than two dozen people who asked to be excused from serving as a juror, mostly due to personal or professional reasons.

Harris, dressed in a dark suit, showed no emotion as he watched the proceedings.

Jury selection is expected to take up to two weeks, and the trial is expected to last a month.

Harris faces myriad charges, including the murder of his son and sexual exploitation of minors for text messages he sent to underage women. He could go to prison for life if convicted.

Prosecutors say the then-married man deliberately left his son in the car because he wanted a child-free life. Phone and internet records show Harris was sending explicit messages for much of the day when his son was dying inside the sweltering car.

Harris' lawyers say he left the toddler strapped in his car seat after forgetting to drop Cooper off at daycare. Harris has pleaded not guilty and claimed that, while not being a perfect husband, he loved his son and the death was a terrible accident.

Leanna Taylor, Cooper's mother, divorced Harris after the child's death but told several media outlets she believed her former husband was innocent.

(Editing by Colleen Jenkins and James Dalgleish)

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