Attorney says client may take stand

Published 04/03 2013 06:03PM

Updated 04/03 2013 06:30PM

SPRINGFIELD -- In less than a month, a man will go on trial for one of the most gruesome murders this area has ever seen. Chris Harris is accused of killing Rick and Ruth Gee and three of their children in the small town of Beason in 2009. WCIA-3's Steve Staeger sat down with Harris' attorney for a first-hand look at the planned defense.

Probably the most surprising piece of information is that Harris will likely take the stand in his own defense to tell the jury his side of the story. He's likely to describe a 14-year old boy on a killing spree inside his own home.

"None of us could predict how we would react if we walked into that situation."

Dan Fultz is telling a gruesome story. It's the story of what his client says happened in September 2009. It's the night Rick and Ruth Gee and three of their children, Justina, Dillen and Austin were killed.

"The tragedy is that there were some innocent people who lost their lives. That can't be ignored."

Fultz's client, Christopher Harris, is accused of the family's murder. But, Fultz says Harris walked in on 14-year old Dillen killing the family.

"We've alleged self-defense when it comes to Dillen. What that means is my client killed Dillen."

Harris told that story to police ten days after the murders, the day he was arrested.

"Why wouldn't Chris come forward at that time and admit this theory? He had ten days to go to the police and say, 'hey, I walked in on this kid killing the entire family.'"

"Dillen was his ex-wife's brother. Nicole Gee and her father, Rick, were very close. Chris didn't want to be the one to tell her, 'look, I killed your brother. I saw your dad get killed. It was brutal.'"

Even though Harris didn't tell police his story until his arrest, Fultz says he'll tell the jury by taking the stand.

"The law requires some evidence to be presented to the jury on a self-defense theory. Well, keep in mind everyone else who was in the house is deceased. So, there's no one else to elicit that testimony from, except our client."

Prosecutors haven't revealed much about their case against Harris. But, Fultz says it will be a battle.

"When you look at it just on its face, you'd say, 'well, there's no question he did it. No question. They've got evidence he was in the house, that he was in there, you know he must have done it.' But, when you actually dig deeper and look closer at what the forensic evidence says, it's pretty fascinating."

Again, prosecutors haven't said much publicly about the case. The trial is set for April 29 in Peoria.

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