LINCOLN — Jason Harris was sentenced to 20 years in prison Thursday for giving his brother cocaine shortly before his brother killed five members of a Beason family and then lying to police about how the deaths occurred almost four years ago.
Harris, 25, was sentenced to 10 years for concealment of a homicide, 7 years for delivery of a controlled substance and three years for obstruction of justice. The prison terms must be served consecutively.
Prosecutors filed a new case against Harris on Thursday accusing him of concealing the deaths by hiding a laptop computer taken by Chris Harris during the slaying and the drug charge. Seventy of the initial counts filed against Harris were dismissed after he pleaded guilty to the obstruction charge contained in the initial indictments.
Harris will serve about six years of the sentence because of credit for time he already has served for day-for-day consideration in prison.
Harris showed no emotion during the Logan County hearing — the same demeanor he has displayed at every court appearance since his arrest almost four years ago in the deaths of Rick and Ruth Gee and three of their children.
Defense lawyer Steve Skelton said after the hearing that the sentence reflects Jason Harris’ role in the tragedy.
“Given the enormity of this case, and the serious nature of what occurred, this is an appropriate resolution,” said Skelton, adding that the sentence is “a heavy price to pay for being dishonest.”
Harris was arrested almost four years ago in connection with the September 2009 deaths of Rick and Ruth Gee and three of their children, and the severe injuries to a fourth child. The Gees were related by marriage to his brother, Chris, who was convicted in May of their murders and was sentenced to life in prison.
The plea agreement was disclosed during Chris Harris’ trial when Jason testified that he saw his brother go into the Gee home with a tire iron and then heard people being beaten. Jason Harris testified that he stood by as his brother slugged 14-year-old Dillen Constant with a tire iron outside the house.
An agreement to testify truthfully in the Harris cases also was part of a deal reached in May with Sara Duncan, whose daughter is Jason Harris’ former girlfriend. Duncan and Jennifer Earnest both were charged with obstruction of justice for providing Chris Harris with a false alibi.
Duncan was placed on 24 months’ probation and fined $2,500 on a misdemeanor charge of resisting a peace officer. Charges are pending against Earnest.
The brothers faced more than 50 first-degree murder charges after their arrest in October 2009. They also were charged with the attempted murder of Tabitha Gee, then 3, who survived.
Jason Harris and Earnest stood by Chris Harris after his arrest, which followed an eight-day investigation by local, state and federal police that culminated with an admission by Jason Harris that his brother killed the family.
Shoes that matched footprints at the crime scene and the Gees’ laptop computer were collected by police from an Armington home at which both suspects were living.
A Peoria jury rejected Chris Harris’ claim that he killed Dillen Constant in self-defense after he walked in on the teen killing the family.