Man Convicted of Killing Ex-Wife's Family Wants New Trial

Christopher Harris was convicted in May of beating five members of his ex-wife's family to death

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    NEWSLETTERS

    TK
    AP
    Christopher Harris

    A central Illinois man convicted in May of beating five members of his ex-wife's family to death wants a new trial.

    Attorneys for 34-year-old Christopher Harris mailed a motion last Friday asking for a new trial, a spokeswoman for attorney Daniel Fultz said Monday. The Logan County Circuit Clerk's office hadn't received the motion by Monday afternoon. Fultz did not respond to a message left at his Springfield office.

    In the motion, the attorneys argue that Judge Scott Drazewski denied Harris a fair trial by refusing to let jurors visit the small home in Beason where Rick and Ruth Gee and their children died in 2009. The family was beaten to death with a tire iron on Sept. 21, 2009. Beason is about 45 miles northeast of Springfield.

    The attorneys also claim the judge should have let jurors hear evidence that the parents were concerned about the potentially violent tendencies of 14-year-old Dillen Constant. Harris admitted killing Constant but claimed he walked in on the boy as he attacked his family.

    The jury in Peoria convicted Harris on five first-degree murder charges in the deaths of 46-year-old Rick Gee; 39-year-old Ruth Gee; Constant, who was Ruth Gee's son; Ruth Gee's 16-year-old daughter, Justina Constant; and Rick Gee's 11-year-old son, Austin Gee. The Gees' then-3-year-old daughter, Tabitha, was beaten but survived.

    The trial was held in Peoria because of intense pretrial publicity in Logan County.

    Harris was once married to Rick Gee's adult daughter, Nicole Gee, who lived elsewhere in Beason and wasn't in the home at the time of the killings. The two had recently broken up after temporarily getting back together.

    During the trial, Harris' brother, Jason Harris, testified that the two of them had spent the night of the killings drinking, smoking marijuana and using cocaine. Jason Harris said he waited outside while his brother went into the home, and later saw his brother beat Constant outside the home with a tire iron.

    Christopher Harris didn't dispute that the two wound up at the house, saying they went there to buy marijuana. He never accused his 25-year-old brother of having a role in the killings.

    Jason Harris was at one point charged with murder but agreed to plead guilty to lesser charges that, with time served and good behavior, could see him freed from prison in six years.

    Christopher Harris is scheduled to be sentenced July 19.