Friday, Drazewski began going though a long list of pretrial
motions. He asked the prosecution and defense to recommend to him in
what order he should hear the motions.
At the top of the list was
the decision as to whether or not jurors should be permitted to tour
the Gee home. The motion was a request to allow, made by the
Soon after defense attorneys Dan Fultz and Peter Naylor were
appointed to the Harris case last year, replacing attorney James
Elmore, Fultz said in an interview with local media that he did not
feel touring the home would be necessary. He told media that there
were sufficient photos and videos of the crime scene for the defense
to make its case.
However, on Friday afternoon, Naylor told Drazewski that after he
and Fultz personally toured the home last fall, they knew that the
photos were not a fair representation of the home and its small
He said the jury needs to experience and see firsthand the
tightness of the house and the smallness of the hallways in order to
understand the positions the defense will take in this case.
He added that the tour is about the size and space of the home
and not at all about forensic evidence that may remain at the crime
Naylor said touring the home will give the jurors a sense of how
the crimes occurred and the timeline in which they occurred. He
noted the prosecution is arguing that the physical changes to the
home over the past three years will not offer an accurate
representation of the crime scene. However, Naylor said it will
offer what is needed, because while the crime scene may have
changed, the physical structure remains.
Naylor said if the jury would not be allowed to see the home
firsthand, the defense would have to continually point out to them
how small the spaces were, as this is an integral portion of their
Naylor and co-attorney Dan Fultz intend to argue that Christopher
Harris could not have committed the crimes as accused and walked out
of the house unharmed. Naylor said the defense and prosecution agree
that what took place in the Gee home in September of 2009 was a
violent and brutal fight.
He told Drazewski that jurors needed to see the house to
understand how long it took to get from one room to the other during
this fight. Naylor said the prosecution would argue that touring the
home served no useful purpose, while he believes it is not only
useful but critical to the case.
Drazewski pointed out a particular photo that is among the
hundreds taken of the crime scene. He noted a gloved hand in the
photo and used it to lead into his questions about public safety
with the presence of human blood, tissue and mold. Naylor said he
didn't know whose hand was in the photo, but that when he and Fultz
toured the home, they wore gloves. He said it would be good for
jurors to also wear gloves, face masks and touch as little as
possible. He also stated the jurors could be in and out of the house
in approximately five minutes.
Included in the mass of photos are a collection of shots taken by
the Logan County Sheriff's Department in March of this year, after
the motion to tour the home was filed.
Assistant Attorney General Michael Atterberry walked through
those photos, pointing out numerous health issues. He also pointed
out that in three years of being abandoned, the house has physically
Naylor told the judge that the jurors would be instructed to
disregard all of that. They would only be asked to observe the
walls, doors and physical size of the structure.
However, Drazewski commented that looking at the photos taken in
2009 and comparing them with those taken last month, he wasn't sure
how that could not have an impact on the jury.
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Naylor said the jury would be instructed as what they were to
look at and consider, and what not to consider. He used the hallway
of the home as an example of the difference in perception between
photo and real life. He said in the photo, one could not sense how
small the hallway was.
When Atterberry was permitted to argue against the motion, he
painstakingly went through dozens of pictures, pointing out things
the jury will see that are not representative of the night of the
What was revealed in this discussion is that the crimes took
place in virtually every room of the home. He discussed blood and
human tissue on a bedroom mattress, the upheaval of the kitchen and
He also went through the photos showing examples of mold in the
hallway, living room, kitchen and more.
He pointed out portions of floors that have deteriorated and also
said the floor in the bathroom had fallen in where evidence was
removed from the scene. In addition he pointed out that bushes
outside in front of the home on the night of the murders are no
longer there due to some type of pipeline construction that has
taken place in the last three years. He moved on, saying that a
portion of the sidewalk where evidence was found no longer exists,
as with a portion of the entryway flooring.
He said that in presenting his case, Naylor had said seven times
that the jurors would be instructed not to consider this or that,
but telling them not to look at something was a sure way to assure
they would. Drazewski commented that this was the "Oz effect": tell
people not to look at the man behind the curtain and that is all
they will look at.
Atterberry also stated that the prosecution had no objection to
the defense providing diagrams of the house with its dimensions, and
he felt that would be a much safer approach than exposing the jurors
to all the contamination inside the home.
When Naylor was permitted to dispute Atterberry's arguments, he
told the judge that the jury would not be told what not to look at,
but rather they would be instructed as to the purpose of the visit.
He said that Christopher Harris is facing some 50-plus charges of
first-degree murder. It is important for the jury to see that this
was violent combat that occurred in close quarters. Because of this,
the defense maintains that Harris could not have committed the
crimes without being injured himself.
Naylor said that viewing the home firsthand would be critical to
When Drazewski delivered his ruling, he began by saying the
question was, Will viewing the home assist the jury in understanding
what happened in 2009? He said in a perfect world, the jury would
have seen the home much sooner, and yes it could have been
beneficial, but after three years of sitting abandoned, things have
changed inside the home, and it is no longer a true representation
of the crime scene.
In addition, he said he had a responsibility to consider the
potential health hazards inside the home and whether or not it was
worth exposing the jury to that.
Finally, he said his last consideration took a back seat to all
others but still had to be mentioned. He had to consider whether the
time and expense of this type of tour was necessary.
When Naylor presented his case for the motion, he asked Drazewski,
if in favor of denying the motion, to hold his decision until he
personally had been taken to view the home.
In his decision Drazewski said he did not see a need to view the
home personally before ruling on the motion. He said he also did not
see the need for the jury to view the home personally; therefore, he
would deny the motion without reservation.