A Fayetteville man who shot and killed his stepdaughter’s father during a heated encounter over a travel bag on his doorstep in 2020 was sentenced to life in prison Thursday.
A Fayette County jury found 49-year-old Jermaine Alfonso Harmon guilty of felony murder, aggravated assault and possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime following a four-day trial, according to Griffin Judicial Circuit District Attorney Marie Broder.
Harmon was convicted despite claiming self-defense in the August 2020 shooting. Joshua Kellam, a 38-year-old Brooklyn, New York, man who shared a daughter with Harmon’s wife, died in the incident.
Superior Court Judge Fletcher Sams sentenced Harmon to life in prison plus five years, Broder announced in a news release.
According to court testimony, the shooting happened just after Kellam spent a month with his 10-year-old daughter during the summer of 2020. On July 31, 2020, he dropped the child off at her mother Dawn Harmon’s house, where she lived with husband Jermaine.
The following day, Kellam realized that he had left his travel bag, which contained important legal and personal documents, in his daughter’s suitcase.
Kellam tried calling and text messaging Dawn Harmon to get his bag back, but got no response, according to the district attorney. He even showed up at the family’s home multiple times that day, both alone and accompanied by law enforcement.
Prosecutors said Harmon knew Kellam was simply trying to retrieve his travel bag. But when Kellam knocked on the man’s door that evening, Harmon was armed with a .40-caliber Glock when he answered. Attorneys said he punched Kellam in the face then shot him in the heart and killed him.
Harmon was arrested in October 2020 and later indicted on several charges tied to the shooting. He remained jailed in Fayette County without bond since his arrest, awaiting trial, according to online booking records.
Harmon’s family started a petition on change.org in which his mother argued that he used justifiable force to defend himself and his family from an “irate individual who trespassed his property and violently assaulted him.”
Harmon testified during this week’s trial that he shot Kellam in self-defense after the victim attacked him and put him in a headlock. Broder said jurors rebuffed that notion with their verdict.
“All of us involved in the trial were just deeply saddened by such a senseless killing of such a loving husband, father and brother,” said Deputy Chief Assistant District Attorney Warren Sellers, who helped prosecute the case. “We are thankful that justice prevailed, and Mr. Harmon was held accountable.”
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