Judge hears pretrial motions in Harris murder trial

By Denise Jackson

April 29, 2013 Updated Apr 29, 2013 at 10:32 PM CDT

PEORIA, Ill. -- When five members of the Gee family were found murdered in their home in 2009, it rattled the small community of Beason and central Illinois.

This week what happened may begin to finally come out.

Starting Tuesday, jurors in Peoria County will be selected to hear the graphic and gruesome testimony in the murder trial of Christopher Harris.

Christopher Harris, 34, and his brother Jason Harris, 26, each face more than 50 counts of murder in the beating deaths of Rick and Ruth Gee and their three children.

On Monday, Judge Scott Drazewksi denied a defense request to show a small selection of crime scene photos to potential jurors when they are questioned later this week. Defense attorney's argued that the photos may be "too gruesome" for some jurors.

It was one of several pretrial motions presented by the defense team.

Defense attorneys plan to argue that Christopher Harris entered the Gee home to find Dillen Constant, 14, killing his family in a rage. They claim that Dillen was a violent child with anti-social behavior.

The judge ruled Monday that jurors would not hear testimony that Ruth Gee commented to a medical provider, in 2007, that her son could be a danger to himself or others.

The judge did rule that the defense could allow an expert witness to talk about violent video games as they relate to children.

Prosecutors must prove that Christopher Harris brutally beat Rick and Ruth Gee, Justina Constant, 16, Dillen Constant, 14, and Austin Gee, 11, with a tire iron inside their home. The couple's daughter Tabitha, 3, survived.

Prosecutors contend the brothers were planning to steal a computer and sexually assault Dillen's sister, Justina.

The case was moved from Logan County to Peoria due to pretrial publicity. Earlier this month, Judge Drazewksi denied a request by the prosecution to move the trial to Rock Island.

If convicted, Christopher Harris faces up to life in prison.

A trial date for Jason Harris has not been set.

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