The prosecution -- consisting of Logan County State's Attorney
Jonathan Wright, Assistant Attorney General Michael Atterberry and
Assistant Attorney General Steven Nate -- will be calling what was
referred to Friday afternoon as "jailhouse witnesses."
jailhouse witnesses are expected to testify that Christopher Harris
communicated to them details of the crimes committed in September of
2009 that were not public knowledge.
On the defense side, attorneys Dan Fultz and Peter Naylor will
attempt to rebut this testimony by showing that the first public
defender appointed to the case, Patrick Timoney, talked to Harris
about evidentiary discovery. The defense will contend that it was
this information that enabled Harris to carry on conversations with
the jailhouse witnesses.
Friday afternoon, Judge Scott D. Drazewski acknowledged a letter
written by Timoney stating that he would not testify on matters
discussed with his client without a waiver of attorney-client
privilege. This is a waiver that must be given by the defendant.
At this time, the defense is planning to call Timoney without a
waiver and will ask him general questions about the time he spent
The prosecution believes that if this is the case, then Timoney
should not be allowed to testify at all. Wright told the judge that
the defense was using Timoney as a "sword and a shield" -- something
that is prohibited in court. He said the defense will pose the
questions to Timoney but then pull back on getting precise answers.
Attorney Stephanie R. Hammer appeared with the defense counsel
and began arguments for allowing the testimony of Timoney. Drazewski
asked Hammer to expand on what type of questions would be asked of
Timoney. Hammer said the line of questioning would be dependent upon
what the court required. She said the defense wanted to avoid
waiving attorney-client privilege. If that privilege is not waived,
the questions the defense asks will be of a broader nature.
Drazewski confirmed that the defense plans to use Timoney as a
rebuttal witness regarding testimony given by the jailhouse
witnesses. He then asked Hammer to do some role-playing as a
demonstration. He wanted her to pose a possible question, then tell
what kind of response could be expected from Timoney.
Attorney Fultz took up the discussion then, saying questions
posed would be simple and general, such as: How long were you the
attorney appointed to the case? Do you recall having conversations
about the case with the defendant? Did you discuss discovery with
It was explained that Timoney would not be asked to give details
of any conversations.
Fultz also indicated that Harris would take the witness stand in
his own defense, as Fultz said Harris would testify that his
attorney told him the details of the case and he shared that
information with fellow inmates.
In the end, Drazewski ruled that Timoney would be allowed to
testify and speak generally about his conversations with Christopher
Another motion coming before the judge was whether or not to
allow the prosecution to discuss with Nicole Gee the grounds of her
divorce from Christopher Harris.
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Gee and Harris were divorced in March of 2007. Gee filed for the
divorce, claiming mental cruelty as the grounds for the divorce. The
prosecution wants to discuss with Gee the events leading up to the
divorce and claims that Gee had filed orders of protection against
During the hearing Friday afternoon, when that statement was made
by prosecutor Atterberry, Christopher Harris immediately leaned in
to whisper to Fultz. Fultz then relayed to the judge that no orders
of protection were ever issued against Harris. He said that
Atterberry was surely confusing this case with another.
When the defense had their turn to speak, Fultz said that mental
cruelty is an easy cause to file in the state of Illinois, and
Nicole Gee had simply checked a box on a form as instructed by an
office clerk. He also said that Gee, who is currently in Florida,
will testify that her ex-husband was of a gentle nature.
In the end, Drazewski said the fact that Gee is divorced from
Harris may be discussed in trial, but the grounds for divorce may
In other motions, the defense and prosecution agreed to petition
that prospective jurors complete a multi-page juror survey and be
interviewed one at a time instead of in a panel of four, as is
During discussion, Atterberry said he had done this in a previous
trial and it had not hindered the time taken to select an effective
All the attorneys agreed that interviewing in a panel of four
would allow all four prospective jurors the opportunity to learn
more about the case through each otherís comments, which is
something they want to avoid.
Drazewski also stated that if a survey was used, he would then
expect attorneys to not dwell on the same questions during the
It was brought up that the questionnaire could alert the
attorneys to possible red flags for a juror and could also provide
information that would allow the attorneys to engage the juror and
help the person relax and interact more comfortably with them.
It was also discussed how the courts would handle jurors who
claim hardship as a means of getting out of the pool. Drazewski said
generally in his court that question is posed to the entire group in
the holding room. Those who raise their hand that doing jury duty
will cause them a hardship are then dealt with first and separately.
The list of motions to be heard Friday was quite lengthy, and in
a hearing that began at approximately 1:50 p.m. and ended after 5
p.m., not all the motions were heard.
The next hearing will take place on April 19 in Peoria. Drazewski
will continue hearing pretrial motions on that day, and the process
may spill over into the April 29 hearing date as well.
Jury selection will begin on April 30 and should take the
remaining three to four days of that week. If all goes as scheduled,
the actual trial should commence in the first full week of May and
is expected to last three to four weeks.