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Murder suspect seeks change of venue

Dec. 4, 2012 at 2:29 PM

BEASON, Ill., Dec. 4 (UPI) -- Sympathy for a Beason, Ill., family killed in a 2009 home invasion has prompted a request for a change of venue for one of the suspects, his lawyer said.

Christopher Harris, 33, has asked a judge to move his April 29 murder trial from the Logan County, where Rick and Ruth Gee and three of their children were found beaten to death in their home. Harris and his brother, Jason Harris, 25, both of Armington, are charged with more than 50 counts of murder and the attempted murder of a sixth victim, a young girl who survived, the Bloomington Pantagraph reported Tuesday.

In the change of venue request, defense lawyer Dan Fultz wrote nearly half of 450 local adults surveyed in June 2011 said they believed Christopher Harris was guilty and 20 percent of those who knew of the case were acquainted with the Gee or Harris families.

The defense team must cope with the outpouring of sympathy and support the community offered after the deaths, which included memorial funds and the naming of a children's recreational park after the children, the newspaper said.

Judge Thomas Harris, no relation to the defendants, set a Jan. 14 hearing on the change of venue request.

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