PEORIA — The jury in the Chris Harris murder trial was sent home early Friday to allow lawyers on Monday to make legal arguments apparently related to an interview he gave to police the day he was arrested in 2009 for the deaths of a Beason family.
Also sent home Friday were Jason Harris’ former girlfriend and her mother, who were dismissed after prosecutors told the women their testimony was not needed.
The jury’s dismissal came as jurors had been preparing to view an Oct. 1, 2009, videotape of an interrogation of Harris. After conferring with attorneys after the request of defense lawyer Dan Fultz, Judge Scott Drazewski said the jury would be sent home and unspecified legal matters would be taken up Monday morning.
A similar situation occurred May 10 after an editing error in another videotaped interview let jurors hear an improper comment. The jury left early that day and came back Monday to see the proper version of the interview.
An obviously angry Sara Duncan and her daughter, Jennifer Earnest, talked briefly with prosecutor Steve Nate in the hallway of the Peoria County Courthouse minutes before the trial was scheduled to begin Friday. Earnest is a former girlfriend of Chris Harris’ brother and co-defendant.
“I spent $900 on airline tickets for nothing,” said Duncan, who came to Peoria on Thursday in answer to a subpoena to testify.
Earnest resides in Kentucky, according to court records.
Prosecutor Michael Atterberry confirmed to The Pantagraph that the women who both face obstruction of justice charges in the murder case will not be called. He declined to elaborate.
Chris Harris is charged with murder in the deaths of Rick and Ruth Gee and three of their children on Sept. 21, 2009, in their Beason home.
The charges accusing the women of providing Chris Harris with a false alibi remain pending with no trial date set.
In his testimony this week, Jason Harris said Earnest told police that he and his brother burned the clothing Chris Harris was wearing when he went into the Gee home.
Earnest and Jason Harris lived in a rural Armington home with their young daughter in September 2009. Duncan was visiting from Florida when the Gees were killed.
Chris Harris moved into his brother’s garage three days before the deaths after a split with his ex-wife Nicole Gee, who was Rick Gee’s daughter.