News Department

2 men sentenced for the 2020 kidnapping, murder of Cpl. Hayden Harris in Sussex County

NEWTON, NJ (Sussex County) — Jamaal Mellish and Hannan Aiken were sentenced on Aug. 4 for various crimes related to the shooting and killing of Cpl. Hayden Harris in Byram Township in Dec. 2020, according to Acting Sussex County Prosecutor Annmarie Taggart.

Mellish and Aiken both of Brooklyn, N.Y. abducted Cpl. Harris at gun point in Glen Park, New York and took him to the area of Ross Road in Byram Township where he was shot and killed. It is alleged that the motivation behind this killing was over a dispute relating to a vehicle transaction, Taggart said.

Superior Court Judge Michael C. Gaus sentenced Mellish and Aiken to life in prison, with 63 ¾ years before becoming parole eligible.

Mellish and Aiken, both of Brooklyn, N.Y., were found guilty on June 28 by a Sussex County Jury of murder, conspiracy to commit murder, kidnapping, conspiracy to commit kidnapping, murder during the commission of a crime, carjacking, conspiracy to commit car jacking, murder during the commission of a crime, unlawful possession of a weapon, possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose, and hindering one’s apprehension.

“Although nothing can bring back the precious life of Cpl. Harris, we feel that justice was served in this matter based upon the sentence imposed.” Taggart said.

The trial in this matter lasted approximately 6 weeks and the State called 22 witnesses to the stand. There were over 350 pieces of evidence admitted. Evidence that was admitted included DNA evidence, cell phone tracking evidence, interviews, surveillance videos, and physical evidence found at the scene. The State also presented various maps which depicted the location and movement of Mellish and Aiken on the night in question, Taggart said.

The convictions in the case stem from an investigation done by numerous parties which were all crucial in obtaining justice for Cpl. Harris and his family. These agencies are as follows: Byram Township Police, New Jersey State Police Crime Scene North, Jefferson County Sherriff’s Office in New York, US Army Criminal Investigative Division in Fort Drum, New York, New York Police Department, Department of Investigation, and the Sussex County Prosecutor’s Office units of Major and High Tech Crimes.

The case was prosecuted by Deputy First Assistant Prosecutor Sahil Kabse and Supervising Assistant Prosecutor Shaina Brenner whom spent many months preparing the case.

Defense attorney for Jamaal Mellish: Joel Harris, Esq. (Newton, NJ) Defense attorney for Hannan Aiken: Thomas Militano, Esq. and Matthew Young, Esq. (Newton, NJ).

Jay Edwards

Born and raised in Northwest NJ, Jay has a degree in Communications and has had a life-long interest in local radio and various styles of music. Jay has held numerous jobs over the years such as stunt car driver, bartender, voice-over artist, traffic reporter (award winning), NY Yankee maintenance crewmember and peanut farm worker. His hobbies include mountain climbing, snowmobiling, cooking, performing stand-up comedy and he is an avid squirrel watcher. Jay has been a guest on America’s Morning Headquarters,program on The Weather Channel, and was interviewed by Sam Champion.

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