Defense hopes to take jurors to crime scene

SPRINGFIELD -- Jurors in the Beason murder trial may get an up-close and personal view of a terrifying scene. The defense is asking the judge to allow the jury to go to the home where the Gee and Constant family was killed.

Now, we're getting a better idea why. WCIA-3's Steve Staeger finds out what's behind the defense attorney's request.

Attorney Dan Fultz has said his client didn't kill the entire family. Instead, Fultz contends Christopher Harris walked in on the family's 14-year old, Dillen, during a killing spree. Fultz says, one look at the house, could put doubt in some jurors' minds.

"My client is obviously accused of a very heinous crime. I mean, people died in very, very traumatic ways."

You can imagine, this house was a traumatic scene. Five people killed inside; Rick and Ruth Gee and three of their children.
"The picture of the house, the footprint of the house, the blueprint, makes the house look like it's a big, four-bedroom, suburban home. It's tiny and the bedrooms are tiny."

Fultz has been assigned to represent Harris, who's accused of the murders. Prosecutors claim Harris and his brother went to the home to steal a laptop and sexually assault 16-year old Justina Constant. In the end, the state says Harris beat the family to death with a tire iron.

"I think it's important for the jury to see that, with the level of combat that went on in this house, my client had no injuries on his body anywhere. And this took place in a very small house."

Fultz has spent thousands of hours going through the nearly 17,000 pages of evidence in the case. He's looked at crime scene photos and blueprints showing the home. He says, when he actually went to the house, he noticed it's a lot smaller than it looks.

"Part of our defense is obviously the guy is swinging a two-foot tire iron, according to the state, and he's swinging it. He's hitting door frames, he's hitting walls, he's hitting people. He's hitting everything because this thing is going everywhere. Not a single scratched knuckle, anywhere. Not a broken fingernail, not a scratched knuckle, nothing!"

Fultz claims Harris just went to the home to buy marijuana and walked in on a 14-year old Dillen killing his family. Harris admits he killed Dillen in self-defense and says the lack of cuts and bruises on Harris backs that up.

"The police saw him repeatedly during this time frame and yet they continue to issue press releases and statements saying, 'You're likely to find a guy in the community who's beaten, bruised, cut. That's the guy we're looking for.' Nothing."

Fultz says taking the jury to the home is a risky move, but it could pay off.

"This could actually backfire on us. People could go in there and be so taken back by the brutality of what happened."

There is a pretrial hearing Friday in Peoria. The judge is expected to rule on some of the motions. The trial is set to begin April 29.

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