A Peoria County jury has found Christopher Harris guilty of murder in the beating deaths of a family of five in Beason. (WJBC file photo)
By The Associated Press
PEORIA - A jury has found a 34-year-old man guilty of first-degree murder in the beating deaths of five of his ex-wife's relatives in Central Illinois.
The verdict in the trial of Christopher Harris was announced Friday.
In sometimes tearful testimony, Harris admitted to killing 14-year-old Dillen Constant. But Harris said he did so only after the teenager bashed the rest of his family to death at their home in Beason in September 2009.
Harris was also accused in the deaths of Dillen's mother, Ruth Gee; his stepfather, Rick Gee; his 16-year-old sister, Justina Constant; and 11-year-old stepbrother Austin Gee.
Harris' brother, Jason Harris, testified that Christopher Harris told him he killed all five victims after a night of drinking and drug use.
Harris faces a mandatory life sentence for the slayings. He was also convicted of attempted murder of then-three-year-old Tabitha Gee, as well as home invasion and armed robbery for stealing the family's laptop.
Harris will be sentenced on Friday, July 19 at 1:30 p.m. in Logan County.
Logan County State's Attorney Jonathan Wright said Friday that Harris' conviction was vindication in particular for 14-year-old Dillen Constant.
Defense attorney Dan Fultz said it was difficult to convince jurors to acquit Harris in part because of testimony from a pathologist that the boy was hit repeatedly while he was immobile.
But Fultz said Harris will appeal the verdict.