Ill. man gets life term for killing family of 5 - New York News

Ill. man gets life term for killing family of 5

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LINCOLN, Ill. (AP) -- A man convicted of beating five members of his ex-wife's family to death in their small-town Illinois home was sentenced Friday to five consecutive life sentences.

Christopher Harris, 34, was convicted in May after a monthlong trial. Harris admitted killing Dillen Constant, but claimed he did so in self-defense after discovering the 14-year-old boy slaughtering his own family.

Harris' own brother testified against him, describing the sickening sound as Harris pummeled his former mother-in-law and her family with a tire iron.

Harris was convicted of five counts of first-degree murder, home invasion and other charges. He faced a mandatory life term.

The family -- Ruth and Raymond "Rick" Gee and their three children -- were killed Sept. 21, 2009, at their home in Beason, 40 miles northeast of Springfield. Harris was at one time married to Rick Gee's adult daughter, Nicole Gee. The two had recently reconciled, but broke up again just days before the gruesome deaths.

Harris did not dispute that he and his brother, Jason Harris, drank, smoked marijuana and used cocaine during a long night that ended with the murders. He testified that the two went to the Gees' home to buy more marijuana.

Harris said when he walked into the house he saw 46-year-old Rick, Ruth, 39, and 11-year-old Austin Gee all badly hurt or dead. He said he then fought Dillen.

But Jason Harris testified that he believed they went to the Gee's home that night because his brother wanted to have sex with Ruth Gee's 16-year-old daughter, Justina Constant.

Jason Harris, now 25, testified that he stayed outside the house but that he heard a woman scream -- like something from "a horror film" -- and thuds like the sound of a bowling ball hitting the floor.

He said he saw his brother hit Dillen with the tire iron and that his sibling admitted he'd killed the rest of the family, saying: "I (messed) up. I killed them all."

The Gees' then-3-year-old daughter, Tabitha, was beaten but survived the attack.

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