Trial underway in murder of Fort Drum soldier

Kidnapping and murder trial
Published: May. 22, 2023 at 1:21 PM EDT
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SUSSEX COUNTY, New Jersey (WWNY) - A murder trial is underway for two people charged with allegedly kidnapping and killing a Fort Drum soldier more than two years ago.

Opening statements began Monday in New Jersey.

Back in December 2020, Army Spc. Jamaal Mellish and fellow Fort Drum soldier 20-year-old Cpl. Hayden Harris met in Glen Park to discuss a vehicle trade.

A few months prior, investigators say Harris reportedly traded his Mustang for Mellish’s pickup truck. Harris, not happy with the trade, wanted his Mustang back.

That’s when the two met up again to undo the deal, but Mellish had already sold the Mustang.

At that meeting on December 17, Mellish and his girlfriends’ brother, Hannan Aiken, allegedly bound and gagged Harris, drove him hundreds of miles to New Jersey, and shot and killed him. His body was discovered two days later.

Investigators say paperwork found alongside Harris’ body had Mellish’s name on it. It was reportedly a receipt from the vehicle transaction.

Mellish and Aiken appeared in front of New Jersey Superior Court Judge Michael Gaus Monday afternoon, where opening statements were made in the trial against them.

Both men are facing murder, kidnapping, and weapons charges. The trial is expected to continue for at least a few weeks.