Nicole Gee Defends Ex-Husband Christopher Harris, Accused of Killing Her Family

(Family Photo)
Photo: Nicole Gee, ex-wife of Christopher Harris, in a MySpace image.

LINCOLN, Ill. (CBS/AP) - The ex-wife of Christopher Harris, the man accused of killing five of her family members in Beason, Ill., has taken to her page in his defense.

"All this is such a mess and it is not right at all. now not only has my children lost 5 very close family members but there daddy is being set up and taken away this is too much," Gee wrote in her error-laden message.

"…there is hard solid evidence of all 6 of them fighting for there lives and chris had not even the slightest nik on his body anywhere. he had been by our side through all this in every possible way and now they took him from us too," she continued.

Harris is scheduled to appear in court today, and relatives say they will be in the courtroom to offer their support.

Harris was arrested last week with the bludgeoning deaths of Raymond and Ruth Gee and three of their children in the town of Beason, which is about 35 miles northeast of Springfield. He was charged Friday with five counts of first-degree murder and one count of attempted murder and could face the death penalty if convicted.

Harris was divorced several years ago from Nicole Gee; it's Gee's father, his wife, and three of their children, who were killed. Harris and Gee had reconciled, intended to marry again and recently had a second child together, Harris' step-mom Debbie Harris said.

Relatives insist Harris is innocent.

(AP Photo/The State Journal-Register)
Photo: Christopher J. Harris, center, outside the Family Life Center in Elkhart, Ill. Monday, Sept. 28, 2009,attending the funeral for the family of Raymond "Rick" Gee.

"There is no way he did this. I think he's being used as a scapegoat," Debbie Harris said of her step-son, adding that he is a gentle man not capable of the crime.

Jason Harris, Harris' 22-year-old brother, said he saw his brother on the day the bodies were discovered and that he was acting normally, with no sign he'd been involved in a violent incident.

"My brother is innocent, 100 percent," he said, calling the accusations "mind-boggling."

Harris has been working as a cook at a Steak 'n Shake in Lincoln while also studying architecture at Lincoln College, where he got A and B grades, his stepmother said. In his free time, he enjoyed taking his family boating on area rivers and lakes, she said.

"He is mild mannered with a good sense of humor," she said, adding her stepson was never prone to violence. "That was not in his nature."

But in court records from the couple's 2006 divorce, Nicole Gee accused Harris of "mostly verbal abuse, some physical." And a judge granted them a divorce on grounds of Harris' "extreme and repeated mental cruelty."

(AP Photo/Seth Perlman)
Photo: In Beason, Ill., emergency workers setup a command post near where five family members were slain in their home.

Raymond "Rick" Gee, 46, and Ruth Gee, 39, were found dead in their home Sept. 21 with their children, 16-year-old Justina Constant, 14-year-old Dillen Constant and 11-year-old Austin Gee.

Police have said they were killed by blunt force trauma preceded by a "violent struggle." A 3-year-old daughter was found alive but seriously injured.

Debbie Harris said her stepson had a good relationship with the Gees, frequently dropping off his own children for the day.

"There is no motive here," she said. "There was no reason. This is why we are in shock."

Police not only searched Harris' home, Debbie Harris said, they also searched hers and the home of Jason Harris, testing bathtubs and cars for traces of blood.

"Everything's come up empty-handed," she said. "Nothing adds up."

Authorities have offered few details about Harris' arrest, including a possible motive.

Friday, Harris appeared in Logan County court in black-and-white striped prison garb and replied "yes, sir" twice to questions from Judge Thomas Harris, who ordered Harris held without bail. Harris is set to appear in court again Tuesday.

He sat through Friday's hearing with his head bowed and quietly sobbing. Public defender Patrick Timoney said he expected Harris to plead not guilty.

Logan County Sheriff Steven Nichols has said officers recovered a gray pickup truck they had been seeking after it was spotted in Beason around the time of the killings. A truck matching the description of the one authorities sought was parked outside Nicole Gee's house for days after the slayings.

Debbie Harris said authorities removed her stepson's truck in the middle of this week.

After the killings, local police initially warned area residents to take extra precautions, such as making sure to lock their doors at night. Rev. Dayle Badman, pastor of the United Methodist Church in Beason, said some residents felt relieved by the arrest.

"I'm just glad that something has transpired and maybe we can begin to put this to rest," Badman said. She said older people had been especially worried and the arrest "may allay some of their fears."

Harris has been transferred to a jail in Bloomington.