Wright: Harris killed Gee family to leave no witnesses

2013-05-08T19:30:00Z 2013-05-09T09:18:02Z Wright: Harris killed Gee family to leave no witnessesBy Edith Brady-Lunny |

PEORIA — The chronology of the Gee family slayings — complete with grisly photos of the five slain victims — was laid out in a Peoria courtroom Wednesday after jurors learned the brother of defendant Chris Harris has been offered a plea deal.

Chris and Jason Harris, both of Armington, are accused of killing Rick and Ruth Gee and three of their children in the family’s Beason home in September 2009.

In opening statements, prosecutor Jonathan Wright said Jason Harris’ testimony will quote his brother, who alleged said as the two drove back to Armington: “I (expletive) up and I killed them all … I didn’t want to leave any witnesses.”

Wright said Jason Harris has been offered a plea deal for a 20-year sentence on charges of concealment of a homicide, unlawful delivery of a controlled substance and obstruction of justice in exchange for his testimony in his brother’s trial. Murder charges would be dismissed against him.

Jason Harris will testify that he and his brother went to the Gees in search of marijuana after a night of drinking and cocaine use, said Wright.

“He (Jason Harris) is not likeable. He stood outside this residence while Chris killed five people and left a sixth for dead,” said Wright, referring to then-3-year-old Tabitha Gee, found alive but severely injured.

Chris Harris took a tire iron with him into the house where he “wanted to talk with Justina” Constant, a 16-year-old victim, said Wright.

Jason Harris told investigators he heard “thud, thud, thud, thud, thud” from inside the house and at one point saw Dillen Constant, 14, jump from a bedroom window. Chris Harris followed the teen outside and struck him multiple times with the tire iron, Wright said, swinging his arms in dramatic gestures before the jury.

Chris Harris allegedly told his brother that once he was inside the house in Justina’s room, Dillen confronted him and asked what was behind his back, looking at the tire iron.

He “smacked” Justina before going from person to person, killing Rick, Ruth and Austin Gee and finally Dillen, who was “hardest to kill because he had a knife,” Wright said in his preview of Jason Harris’ story.

Defense lawyer Peter Naylor said in opening remarks that Chris Harris was forced to kill Dillen in self-defense after he walked in on a killing spree by the youth.

“He walked in on a horror no one can imagine,” said Naylor.

Chris Harris will admit he was in the house and that his DNA will be in a bloody palm print, said Naylor. The suspect’s decision to throw away his shoes, the tire iron and the laptop computer he took from the Gees as he fled the scene was “done in a moment of panic,” said Naylor.

“He didn’t want to talk about it. He didn’t want to explain it. Chris didn’t know, we will never know, if Dillen was the aggressor,” said Naylor.

The graphic photos showed to jurors stirred strong reactions. Judy Stogdell, Rick Gee’s mother, gasped when the photos were displayed on a screen in the courtroom. She was called as the state’s first witness, identifying the victims in family photos and sharing details of the call she received about the deaths from her granddaughter, Nicole Gee.

“They’re gone ... they’re all just gone. They’re dead," Stogdell said she was told.

Dillen’s father, Gerald Miller, and his family were among the spectators who filled the small courtroom. He said there is no way to prepare for an experience like the Harris trial.

“It’s bad,” said Miller.

The trial testimony and gruesome evidence may be taking its toll on jurors who also struggled Wednesday to look at the photos of the victims. At least one juror cried when photos were displayed.

Judge Scott Drazewski offered jurors a break if the evidence becomes too difficult.

Copyright 2015 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(20) Comments

  1. LSUgirl
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    LSUgirl - March 18, 2015 3:00 am
    He should have gotten the death penalty
  2. LSUgirl
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    LSUgirl - March 18, 2015 2:59 am

    About what 'situation?' Who are you standing up for? In the future don't go on a rant unless you have: the person that you are defending, reason that you are defending person, a valid defense of that person. Are you defending ILLINOIS, A PERSON IN ILLINOIS, A SITUATION? Maybe a Cardiologist that couldn't mend your heart that hurts.
  3. LSUgirl
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    LSUgirl - March 18, 2015 2:57 am
    About what 'situation?' Who are you standing up for? In the future don't go on a rant unless you have: the person that you are defending, reason that you are defending person, a valid defense of that person. Are you defending ILLINOIS, A PERSON IN ILLINOIS, A SITUATION? Maybe a Cardiologist that couldn't mend your heart that hurts.
  4. LSUgirl
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    LSUgirl - March 18, 2015 2:46 am
    I just watched the show "Murder Comes To Town". Chris & Jason are both guilty. As far as Nicole Gee, she stood behind him until the end, and then switched. THEORIES 1)She didn't want to admit that she married a psycho. 2) Didn't want to admit that her adoring husband (child molester) wanted to abuse her baby sister. 3) Fact is she knows who she married, she knew the moment she found out about the massacre that he could, might be, was, responsible for the slaughter. I would hate to admit that I married and also let a sociopath father 2 of my children, but stand up for your family first and not the guy that you were separated from.
    Also 'Murder comes to Town', don't get the swinger girlfriend,and the obviously high 'Stormee Whitney' who told Seton That he needed to 'stop watching scary movies only old people die.' Then Ms Popular?, Prom Queen?, Student Class President, Valedictorian Ms Stormee Whitney walks to the end of her driveway and her cell phone explodes. This family DID NOT DESERVE THEIR FATE, but they also didn't deserve the people this show chose to represent the family...swinger, comedian, Prom Queen, whose total iQ might hit 100 combined. This family deserved to have their story told, but with people who knew them the best,(grandmother, sister, uncle, best friend), not by a bunch of hillbillies that wanted their 15 minutes of fame.
  5. country critter
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    country critter - May 13, 2013 11:17 pm
    I get where you're coming from but there still would not be 4 adults if it happened as brothers say, Chris arrived after the fact when only Dillen was left, Jason did not enter the house.
  6. CottonCandi
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    CottonCandi - May 12, 2013 1:49 pm
    Country Critter, if I am reading this correctly, the comments by "speakup" are referring to the 4 adults who claimed to be on the scene of Dillen attacking his family..I believe the comment referred to Rick Gee, Ruth Gee, Chris Harris and Jason Harris. If the allegation of Dillen being the aggressor are true, then there would indeed have been 4 adults who would have been intent on stopping him in that house, without regard to the 3 other children in the house besides Dillen (Justina, Austin, and Tabitha).
  7. country critter
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    country critter - May 09, 2013 8:22 pm
    It has not been proven that Chris went in with a tire iron yet. There have been photos shown of a knife but no testimony on what caused the injuries yet. Where did you get 4 adults, it is the parents and 3 children under the age of 16. I am not saying Chris is innocent but it is remarks like this that the public to convict a person before a jury has a chance to.
  8. country critter
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    country critter - May 09, 2013 7:50 pm
    Where are you from??? Maybe you need to consult a map. All involved were born and raised in Illinois, mainly in Lincoln. Armington is in Illinois, which is just the last location the brothers lived. As a matter of fact at one time they all lived in the town of Beason.
  9. thatconcernedgirl
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    thatconcernedgirl - May 09, 2013 2:22 pm
  10. JUSTICE45
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    JUSTICE45 - May 09, 2013 2:16 pm
    DNA under Rick Gee's finger nails? Even if it were Dillen's.....perhaps it got there from Rick attempting to move Dillen out of harms way! Seeems like something a father would do!!!
  11. ConcernedCitizenLawyer
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    ConcernedCitizenLawyer - May 09, 2013 2:15 pm
    Does anyone know if Pete was appointed because of the Supreme Court case Gideon v Wainwright, Harris has the right to assistance of counsel.
  12. thatconcernedgirl
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    thatconcernedgirl - May 09, 2013 2:09 pm
  13. rnner65
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    rnner65 - May 09, 2013 11:24 am
    In fairness to Pete, that's not the best shot. He's a good guy and a good lawyer. I could never represent this guy but I commend him for giving even the most evil their representation guaranteed by the Constitution.
  14. speakup
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    speakup - May 09, 2013 9:29 am
    the fact chris went in with a tire iron proves his intent-are you telling me that u believe a 14 yr old boy could not be restrained by 4 adults? or is it more plausible the prosecuters got this right? its a no brainer and for bashing tabithas little head like this animal did i hope they prosecute him to the fullest extent of the law
  15. devils_advocate
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    devils_advocate - May 09, 2013 7:31 am
    Pete Naylor looks like the Six Flags guy...
  16. LHoback
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    LHoback - May 09, 2013 7:10 am
    he is as guilty as his brother but a coward taking a easy out. its a very stupid thing that they did over drugs. when they get to prison they will be in for a lot of trouble. god be with the family thru this gross thing they will have to live with those pictures for a very long time i will remember them in my prayers
  17. HellsBelle
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    HellsBelle - May 09, 2013 6:47 am
    And an innocent person would steal a laptop why?
  18. Crybaby
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    Crybaby - May 09, 2013 5:16 am
    'I (expletive) up and I killed them all … I didn’t want to leave any witnesses.'
    As made apparent by this story, he didn't kill 'all' the witnesses.
  19. country critter
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    country critter - May 08, 2013 9:06 pm
    It depends on whom the jury believes. It was told that Jason Harris told multiple stories of his version of what happened and no two were alike which means he'll probably change it again on the stand. He was already on probation and had already been convicted for perjury for another incident. Plus don't forget that this was a violent scene and it is said that Christopher did not have a scratch on his body, no bruise or anything and that the evidence will show that the DNA under Rick Gee's fingernails excluded everyone but Dillen. Yes, Christopher made some big mistakes in his panicked reactions but he's not the first person to do something really stupid when drinking and doing drugs.
  20. earlyriser54
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    earlyriser54 - May 08, 2013 5:59 pm
    This should just about do it. One brother taking the deal and testifying against the other seals the deal.
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