Family Slain Illinois
AP
Jason Harris is accused of helping his older brother kill five members of the Gee family of Beason, Ill.
updated 10/9/2009 2:51:35 PM ET 2009-10-09T18:51:35

A man has been charged with helping his older brother beat to death members of his ex-wife's family, less than a week after the younger sibling insisted his brother was innocent of the crime.

Jason Harris, 22, was charged Thursday with five counts of murder and one count of attempted murder, Logan County Sheriff Steve Nichols said. Identical charges were filed Oct. 2 against Harris' brother, Christopher Harris, whose former father-in-law, Raymond "Rick" Gee, Gee's wife, Ruth, and three of their children were found bludgeoned to death in their home in the tiny central Illinois town of Beason on Sept. 21.

A 3-year-old daughter was found alive but seriously injured. She has been hospitalized since the attack.

The brothers could face the death penalty if convicted.

In an interview with The Associated after his brother's arrest, Jason Harris had called the accusations "mind-boggling" and said his brother showed no injuries or blood spatters.

"My brother is innocent — 100 percent," he said.

'Violent struggle'
Harris is being held without bond. His court-appointed attorney, Steven B. Skelton, said Thursday night that he didn't know anything about the specific accusations because he had not yet seen the charges or met with the defendant.

Skelton said Harris' first court appearance was scheduled for Tuesday in Lincoln.

Christopher Harris, 30, was divorced several years ago from Nicole Gee, whose father, his wife and three of their children were killed. Harris and Gee had reconciled, intended to marry again and recently had a second child together, his stepmom, Debbie Harris, told the AP last week. She also said Christopher Harris was not capable of committing the crime and had no motive.

Police have said the five family members were killed by blunt force trauma preceded by a "violent struggle." Found dead along with the parents were 16-year-old Justina Constant, 14-year-old Dillen Constant and 11-year-old Austin Gee.

Authorities have offered few details about brothers' arrests, including a possible motive.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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