Wednesday, October 17, 2012
sponsored by

Christopher Harris attorneys allowed to pursue investigation of Dillen Constant

Send a link to a friend

[October 17, 2012]  On Tuesday, an attorney for Christopher Harris won a decision from Judge Thomas Harris that brings them one step closer to presenting a case against 14-year-old Dillen Constant in the murders of the Raymond Gee family.

Attorney Dan Fultz spoke on behalf of Christopher Harris, claiming that a list of subpoenas he is requesting will show that Dillen Constant was a violent young man, had a mental disorder and was capable of killing his entire family.

Fultz holds that Christopher Harris, who is currently charged for the crimes with his brother Jason, merely acted in self-defense when he entered the Gee home, witnessed a horrific event going on and in the end killed Dillen Constant.

On Sept. 26, Christopher Harris and his attorneys were in court seeking to get subpoenas for confidential records pertaining to Constant. Their motions were denied because Judge Harris said they lacked specificity as to who and what needed to be subpoenaed.

After the motions were denied, the judge gave the defense attorneys an opportunity to refile their motions in a manner that would provide the court more detail and show that the requests were justified.

Fultz filed the new motions last week. After their filing, the state's attorney's office and the attorney general's office were given the chance to review the motions and file their objections.

On Tuesday, the defense and prosecution met again in front of Judge Harris to argue their points and hear the judge's decision.

Fultz spoke first, saying that the judge's reasons for dismissing the first request had been well taken by the defense, and they were now re-entering their requests with more specific details.

He said that in presenting his requests, he had followed the core test for evidence. The state and the defense are leaning on the court case of the People v. Nixon as the rule to follow in requesting confidential documents.

Accounting for relevance, the first rule of the test, Fultz told the judge that the materials he was asking for were relevant to his case.

He said the second rule applied as well because the documents being requested are items that could not otherwise be obtained. Fultz also told the judge that he could not present his defense without these documents.

The attorney is asking for confidential documents pertaining to Constant's mental health and his behavioral patterns. He told the judge that Constant was known to have violent tendencies, and these documents would show that.

He finished by saying that the facts of the case do meet the threshold of rule and show that the attorneys are not fishing for something they are not sure is there.

Fultz also told the judge that a number of people who have been interviewed since the crimes were committed can speak to Constant's state of mind. He said he is waiting for the investigators' interview with Nicole Gee, but he has spoken to her.

Fultz had also entered a subpoena for the state's attorney's office, but asked the judge to strike that request and amend it to include the Logan County sheriff's office and the Lincoln Police Department.

When Assistant Attorney General Steven Nate took his turn to speak, he said that Fultz has still not passed the test under the People v. Nixon because he has failed to show that once the records are released they will be admissible in court.

Nate said Fultz was claiming Constant had a mental disorder, but had no real proof of it. He said Fultz was basing his claim on the fact that three years prior to the murders Constant had been taking prescription Ritalin. Nate told the judge that this was not relevant to the events of September 2009.

Ritalin is a trademark for methylphenidate. According to "Methylphenidate is used as part of a treatment program (including psychological, educational, and social measures) to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder -- ADHD. It can help increase your ability to pay attention, stay focused on an activity, and control behavior problems. It may also help you to organize your tasks and improve listening skills. This medication is also used to treat a certain sleep disorder (narcolepsy). Methylphenidate is a mild stimulant that is thought to work by changing the amounts of certain natural substances in the brain."

[to top of second column]

Nate continued by addressing the matters of confidentiality. He said the records Fultz was asking for included mental health and medical records, but he had not shown how those records will directly relate to the murders.

Nate asked the judge to consider how he would handle the documents if he chose to allow them to be subpoenaed.

As it stands, the judge will review the documents, if subpoenaed, and will determine if they are relevant. If so, he would then provide both the defense and the prosecution with copies of the relevant information.

Nate asked that in doing his review, the judge not isolate instances without providing the full record, as it would take the single incident out of context.

He offered as an example, if a review of the school records would show that one time in three years Constant was caught acting out against another person, that should not be isolated information. The full record should be submitted to show that in the three years there was only the one occasion.

He told Judge Harris: "The defense plans to put D.C.'s character on trial. We want to be sure it is a true representation of what that character is."

The judge told Fultz that he has already checked the Logan County records and that no juvenile delinquent file exists for Constant. This is one of the files that Fultz was asking be released. As there is none, there is nothing to release.

Fultz said he would withdraw that particular request.

In answer to some of Nate's arguments, Fultz said that records pertaining to Constant's mental health could not be limited to events just prior to the murders. He told the judge there were events that would show Constant leading up to committing the murders.

He also told Harris that he didn't know of any case law that required the judge to release all of a person's file if only part of it is relevant. Fultz said he wanted only relevant facts released, that the entire files would not be needed.

However, Fultz said that if the judge did agree to turn over complete files, then he would probably end up just turning all the records over to the attorneys.

When Harris delivered his decision, he said that in the initial motions from September, Fultz had not passed the test of evidence. He said the motions lacked specificity and that Fultz had not proven the requests were not a fishing trip for what they hoped they could find.

In the second set of motions filed last week, there was more information provided.

Harris said that he still hasn't seen evidence of what the subpoenaed documents could hold, but had simply been told what they might contain. The judge said that left him operating in a vacuum, so to speak. However, he also noted that he believed the defense had met the threshold of showing the relevance of the documents as evidence. He said he would then conclude that the defense had met the first and second rules of evidence.

He said he was taking the fourth element in good faith that the search of these records was not fishing.

In the end, the judge said that he would find that the defense has met the legal requirements based on the People v. Nixon and should be allowed to issue their subpoenas.

Subpoenas will be issued for Dr. Matthew Rossi, Hopedale Pharmacy, Mental Health Centers of Central Illinois, Chester-East Lincoln School and Lincoln Junior High School. There will also be subpoenas issued to the Logan County sheriff and the Lincoln Police Department.

As the hearing came to an end, Nate reminded the court that the subpoenas were strictly for discovery of evidence, and that didn't mean any of it would be admissible.

Judge Harris confirmed that, saying that admissibility of the evidence would be determined at a later date.


< Top Stories index

Back to top


News | Sports | Business | Rural Review | Teaching and Learning | Home and Family | Tourism | Obituaries

Community | Perspectives | Law and Courts | Leisure Time | Spiritual Life | Health and Fitness | Teen Scene
Calendar | Letters to the Editor