Saturday, June 01, 2013
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5 Gee family murders, attempted murder, home invasion and armed robbery

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(Originally posted Friday afternoon)

[June 01, 2013]  PEORIA -- It took jurors less time to come to a verdict than it did to listen to the closing arguments in the murder case against Christopher Harris.

The final outcome:
  • Guilty of murder in the deaths of Rick and Ruth Gee and their three children Justina, Dillen and Austin.

  • The next verdict: guilty of attempted murder in the beating of Tabitha Gee.

  • Harris was also found guilty of home invasion and armed robbery.

After a full month of hearing testimony, attorneys for the state prosecution and for the defense of Harris delivered their closing arguments on Thursday. Michael Atterberry, assistant attorney general, offered the prosecution's close, which lasted well over two hours.

Defense attorney Dan Fultz spent approximately an hour after that trying to show jurors that there was reasonable doubt in the case.

After taking a brief lunch, jurors then heard rebuttal from Logan County State's Attorney Jonathan Wright.

At approximately 3:30 p.m. Thursday, jurors left the courtroom to debate the future of Christopher Harris. The process was delayed for a short time when they discovered that the exhibits they were supposed to use in their decision-making process were not present.

With that corrected, the jury remained behind closed doors until approximately 5 p.m., when Judge Scott Drazewski released them to go home for the night. He issued the standard warnings about not reading the newspaper or watching the news or discussing the case on social media.

The jury returned at 8:30 a.m. Friday and all was quiet until approximately 11 a.m. At that time, the jury notified the judge and attorneys that they had a question to ask.

It took several minutes for Christopher Harris to be brought into the courtroom from a nearby holding space. As the attorneys gathered, they hovered around a slip of paper from the jury and discussed it quietly.

In the end, the question was regarding how to proceed in filling out a verdict form related to the charges of home invasion.

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The question was answered and the result sent back to the jury room. At that time Drazewski cautioned the attorneys not to get too far away from the courtroom.

Within an hour of the question being answered, the court was notified that the jury was ready to deliver its verdict.

Christopher Harris was brought back into the courtroom and waited solemnly for the jury to arrive. In the gallery there seemed to be a large number of Gee family members, but not that many for Harris.

When the jury came into the room, Drazewski told the room that the bailiff had advised him there was a verdict and that it was unanimous. He spoke to the gallery, asking everyone to stay calm and to respect the process that the courts had to go through.

The jury was then brought back in, and Drazewski asked if they had a verdict. The foreman advised him that they did. Verdict forms were then handed to Drazewski for review. Satisfied that everything was in proper order, the verdicts were then read aloud.

Harris was found guilty of murder in the deaths of the Gee family, attempted murder in the beating of Tabitha Gee, and guilty of home invasion and armed robbery.

This will result in a sentence of life imprisonment with no chance for parole.

Drazewski set the sentencing to occur on July 19 at 1:30 p.m. in the Logan County courts.


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