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Harris trial testimony begins

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PEORIA, Ill. (AP) -- Prosecutors in the trial of a man charged with murdering five members of a central Illinois family shared a series of photos of the bodies in the opening day of the trial of Christopher Harris.

Harris is accused in the deaths of 46-year-old Raymond "Rick" Gee, his wife 39-year-old Ruth Gee, his son 11-year-old Austin Gee, her son 14-year-old Dillen Constant and her daughter 16-year-old Justina Constant.

William Koehler discovered said the bodies in September 2009 with his grandson in the town of Beason. On Wednesday, Koehler described the photos as they were displayed on a projection screen in a Peoria courtroom where Christopher Harris is on trial.

Koehler said he was called to the home by a child who is a friend of the family.

 

During opening statements, Harris' attorney told jurors someone else is to blame and that his client walked in on the scene of slaughter and had to fight off the killer.

Defense attorney Peter Naylor says his client,discovered members of the family dead and then fought and killed the family's 14-year-old son, Dillen Constant.

Naylor says that the family's teenage son had a long history of troubled behavior.

Prosecutors say Harris and his brother broke into the home intending to sexually assault one of the family members and carry out a robbery.

Wednesday's testimony marked the start of Harris' trial. His brother, Jason, is expected to testify in a deal with prosecutors.

Logan County State's Attorney Jonathan Wright said Wednesday that Jason Harris has agreed to testify in exchange for a 20-year sentence on lessor charges, including concealing a homicide.

Wright says the brother will testify that he waited outside the house and heard commotion inside, then saw Christopher Harris beat one of the victims, 14-year-old Dillen Constant, repeatedly on a sidewalk outside.

Prosecutors say the brothers broke into the home intending to sexually assault one of the family members and carry out a robbery.

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