LINCOLN — Jurors in the Gee family murder case should hear about the suspect’s alleged drug use hours before the slayings and be allowed to see the home where the grisly crimes took place, according to a flurry of motions filed Friday by the defense and prosecution.
Christopher Harris, 33, is facing trial April 29 in Peoria on more than 50 counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of Ruth and Rick Gee and three of their children. His brother, Jason Harris, 25, faces the same charges, but his trial will be at a later date.
Christopher Harris has claimed he killed Dillen Constant in self-defense and that he walked into the Gee home as the 14-year-old was killing the family.
Defense lawyers Daniel Fultz and Peter Naylor filed three pretrial motions, including a request that the jury travel to the Gee home during the trial. Drawings and video of the home will not be adequate to show the jurors the dimensions of the home “or the narrowness of the hallway where much of the mortal combat occurred,” the motion stated.
In one of four motions filed by Logan County State’s Attorney Jonathan Wright, the state asks that jurors be allowed to hear evidence that in the hours leading up to the murders, the brothers consumed alcohol, marijuana and cocaine.
According to prosecutors, the alleged drug use is part of the narrative of events before the early morning hours of Sept. 21, 2009, according to the motion.
The three other prosecution motions seek to bar information on Dillen Constant’s character, statements from former Christopher Harris defense lawyer Patrick Timoney and several statements made by Christopher Harris to police.
The defense should be required to offer proof in advance of the evidence it would show a jury of Dillen Constant’s alleged violent behavior, the state argued. Wright said the state is not aware of any evidence that would support Christopher Harris’ self-defense claim.
Statements Christopher Harris made concerning an alleged extramarital affair by victim Ruth Gee and his suggestions to police that blood found in Nichole Gee’s home may have come from a cat should be barred because the blood has no connection to the case, the motion stated. Christopher Harris was once married to Nicole, who was Rick Gee’s daughter and not among the victims.
Conversations Timoney had with Christopher Harris during the six months he worked on the case before withdrawing from the matter should not be heard by a jury, the state said.
The defense also is asking that Christopher Harris’ 2006 divorce from Nichole Gee on grounds of mental cruelty be barred for its potential to prejudice the jury.
The motions will be heard March 1.