EHT man sentenced for murder committed 20 years ago

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MAYS LANDING – An Egg Harbor Township man, who was recently deemed competent to stand trial, was sentenced to 35 years in prison for a murder he committed over 20 years ago, acting Atlantic County Prosecutor Jim McClain announced.

On June 10, 1991, at approximately 5 p.m., Jarrod Sayers, now 37, entered Zeus Sporting Goods, located on the Black Horse Pike in Egg Harbor Township, and attempted to rob the store of guns and ammunition. In the course of the robbery, Sayers shot Walter Lee, 49, an employee at the store. Lee sustained a gunshot wound to the chest and died shortly after.

A few hours after the shooting occurred, Sayers turned himself in to police. He was consequently arrested and charged with Lee’s murder.

At the time of the murder, Sayers was a juvenile, only 15-years-old, but he was tried in the criminal court as an adult. However, after being evaluated by doctors, Sayers was deemed incompetent to stand trial and committed for the past 20 years.

On July 31, 2012, after reviewing reports from three different doctors hired by the defense, the prosecution, and the state, the court ruled that Sayers was competent to stand trial. Sayers was ordered to be transferred from Ancora Psychiatric Hospital to the Gerard L. Gormley Justice Facility, where he was lodged on $1 million cash bail.

On Aug. 8, 2012, Sayers pleaded guilty to one count of first-degree murder.

At sentencing today (Friday, Sept. 14), Chief Assistant Prosecutor Pam D’Arcy introduced the family members and friends of Lee to the court and pointed out that for 21 years of competency hearings and court proceedings, they were always present. Today, as usual, many of the victim’s friends and family members were present in court, including the victim’s brother, sister, best friend and the present owner of Zeus Sporting Goods.

Prior to sentencing, Lee’s brother addressed the court recalling the memory of his brother and the many times they had shared while both serving in the military. He told the court that he never thought this kind of tragedy could happen to their family, but it did, and so he asked the judge to do everything in his power to make sure it does not happen to another family.

Lee’s sister also addressed the court, thanking the judge for listening to the recollections of their brother, stating that after 21 years of attending court proceedings, they finally got to hear their brother’s name.

When asked if he would like to address the court, Sayers declined.

 n accordance with the plea agreement, Superior Court Judge Mark Sandson sentenced Sayers to 35 years in New Jersey sate prison, of which he must serve 30 years before becoming eligible for parole. Sayers will receive jail credit for the time he has spent committed.

Anyone with information involving serious crimes is asked to call the Atlantic County Prosecutor’s Office at (609) 909-7800 or see and provide information by filling out the form anonymously on the Submit a Tip page.

People can also call Crime Stoppers at (609) 652-1234 or (800) 658-8477 (TIPS) or see the Crime Stoppers website at Crime Stoppers offers cash rewards for information leading to the arrest and indictment of those who commit crimes in Atlantic County.

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