PEORIA, IL (KTVI)– An unexpected witness is now expected to testify in the central Illinois mass murder trial this month. 34-year old Christopher Harris is charged with 38 counts in the murder of five members of the Gee family of Beason, Il. Family members were brutally attacked inside their small town home in September 2009.
The case was moved from Logan County, northeast of Springfield to Peoria to avoid pre-trial publicity. Wednesday reporters, family and the curious packed the courtroom as the opening arguments were delivered.
Both men made clear to the jury there is no disagreement when it comes to the loss , heartache and pain the Gee family and community have experienced.
Five murder victims and one child who survived were all severely beaten around the head. Only a three year old, Tabithi Gee recovered from her injuries.
During opening statements, the Logan County State’s Attorney Jonathan Wright described the brutal slayings. He told the jury fingerprints belonging to Harris were found on a window sill and a matching palm print was pulled from the master bathroom floor. The computer belonging to Pat and Rick Gee was taken from the house and found in the bed of a pickup owned by Harris’s brother Jason.
Wright said Christopher’s brother, Jason Harris who was with him the night of the murders will testify that his brother admitted he killed everyone in the home. Both men had been drinking the night of the attacks and had consumed cocaine before driving to the Gee family home.
Defense counsel Peter Naylor painted a different picture. He said evidence will show the 14 year old son , Dillen Constant was at risk for violent behavior and was responsible for the murders. Naylor plans to put Christopher Harris on the stand to explain that he panicked after seeing the bodies and killing Dillen in a violent struggle. That sense of panic caused him to dump his shoes, a tire iron and the stolen family computer.
According to the state’s attorney, Jason Harris will receive a lesser sentence under a cooperative agreement with the state. He would receive 20 years for concealing a homicide, obstructing justice and possessing an illegal substance.
Betsey Bruce on Twitter