PEORIA — Chris Harris will face his brother in court Wednesday and listen from his seat at the defense table as Jason Harris gives his version of what happened the night the Gee family was slain in their Beason home.
After the fourth day of testimony in Chris Harris’ murder trial, Illinois Assistant Attorney General Michael Atterberry said Jason Harris will be called Wednesday by the prosecution.
The long-awaited testimony is expected to provide a damaging account of how Chris Harris allegedly took a tire iron from the back of his pickup truck before entering the home of his former in-laws. According to opening statements by Logan County State’s Attorney Jonathan Wright, Chris Harris, 34, told his brother he wanted “to talk to Justina” Constant, Ruth Gee’s 16-year-old daughter whose head injuries were the most gruesome of those shown in photos to the jury.
Jason Harris, 26, told police he waited outside and listened to the sounds of combat between his brother and the victims, who also included Rick and Ruth Gee, Dillen Constant, 14 and Austin Gee, 11. At one point, Dillen escaped through a window and was bludgeoned with the tire iron by Chris Harris before going back inside, said Wright.
Chris Harris is claiming self-defense, saying he walked in on Dillen killing the family and was forced to kill the teen.
Jason Harris’ testimony comes after several forensic scientists for the state told the jury about Chris Harris’ fingerprints found inside the home and footprints from shoes that were similar to, but not exact matches for, those worn by Chris or Jason Harris.
Forensic scientist Beth Patty, one of 25 state witnesses so far, compared two pair of sneakers worn by Chris Harris and one pair from Jason Harris with more than a dozen footwear impressions collected by police.
The shoes worn by the brothers “could not be identified or eliminated,” Patty said after each crime scene photo was displayed to the jury.
The timeline leading up to the grisly discovery of the Gee family on Sept. 21, 2009, was further defined Tuesday.
Sean Osland, a former bartender at Tweakers Bar in Stanford, testified that the pair spent about three hours drinking beer before leaving the bar around 9 p.m. Sept. 20, 2009.
“They didn’t seem too intoxicated to me,” said Osland.
Beason resident Ronald Frakes Jr. stepped outside his house just west of the Gee home around midnight Sept. 20 after he heard an unfamiliar vehicle with loud exhaust driving through the north side of the small Logan County town. He monitored the gray pickup truck with two people he could not identify.
As the truck moved down his street, Frakes walked from the shadows in his driveway, a tactic he said he has used before to check out strangers.
The truck returned to Broadway Avenue, the street where the Gees lived, and Frakes went back inside at 12:15 a.m., without hearing any further sounds connected with the vehicle or its occupants.
Testimony Friday from two of the Gees’ neighbors indicates that Rick Gee’s last comment in an Internet conversation came at 12:42 a.m.