Judge to decide on trip to Beason murder home at April hearing
LINCOLN, Mar 02, 2013 (The Pantagraph - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
Lawyers reached agreements Friday on several motions filed ahead of an April 29 murder trial for an Armington man accused of killing a Beason family.
Christopher Harris, 33, and his brother Jason Harris, 25, are charged with the September 2009 murders of Rick and Ruth Gee and three of their children in their home. No date is set for Jason Harris' trial.
Defense lawyers and prosecutors agreed the state may present evidence about alleged drug use by the Harrises hours before the incident. A motion filed Feb. 15 by Logan County State's Attorney Jonathan Wright said the state plans to show the brothers went to the Gee home sometime after 1 a.m. Sept. 21, 2009, after a night of consuming alcohol, marijuana and cocaine.
Both sides agreed that certain irrelevant statements about the family, made by Harris during a police interview, will be excluded from the trial.
Yet to be resolved is a defense request for the jury to travel to the one-story house that has remained shuttered. An April 5 hearing is scheduled to consider arguments from defense lawyers Daniel Fultz and Peter Naylor that photos, videos and sketches do not adequately represent the small home.
Prosecutors object to the field trip, saying the home is substantially different than it was in 2009 and that blood, mold and other substances make the house a biohazard.
Photos of the house will be provided to Judge Scott Drazewski before the hearing.
At that hearing, the defense will give a preliminary view of evidence on the alleged violent character of 14-year-old victim Dillen Constant. Christopher Harris has claimed self-defense, saying he killed the teenager after he walked in during the boy's attack on family members.
After Friday's hearing, Fultz said he will disclose specific incidents of violence linked to Dillen and that the boy was troubled and capable of killing his family.
The trial is expected to last several weeks in Peoria County, where it was moved after the defense asked for a change of venue.
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