Trial set to begin for 2 accused of killing Run-DMC's Jam Master Jay over 20 years ago

Two men accused of murder in the death of Run-DMC star Jam Master Jay in 2002 are set to go on trial in New York City

Via AP news wire
Monday 29 January 2024 05:01 GMT

Two men accused of murder in the death of Run-DMC star Jam Master Jay are set to go on trial Monday, more than 20 years after the trailblazing DJ was shot in his New York City recording studio.

Opening statements are scheduled in Brooklyn federal court for the murder trial of Karl Jordan Jr. and Ronald Washington, who prosecutors say killed the 37-year-old Jay over a drug deal in 2002. Both men have pleaded not guilty.

Jay, whose birth name was Jason Mizell, worked the turntables alongside rappers Joe “Run” Simmons and Darryl “DMC” McDaniels as the group helped bring hip-hop into the mainstream in the 1980s with hits like “It’s Tricky” and a remake of Aerosmith’s “Walk This Way.”

His slaying rocked the hip-hop world and led the group to disband, but the case went unsolved until the two men from his Queens neighborhood were arrested in 2020. A third man was charged in the shooting last year and will be tried separately.

Run-DMC espoused an anti-drug stance in lyrics and PSAs, but prosecutors allege Jay became involved in trafficking cocaine in the mid 1990s. Prior to his murder, they say he had acquired 10 kilograms (22 pounds) of the drug, which Washington, Jordan and others were going to distribute in Maryland.

Washington, however, got into a dispute with another person involved in the scheme and Jay cut him out of the deal. He and Jordan then showed up armed at the DJ’s 24/7 recording studio in Jamaica, Queens, on the evening of Oct. 30, 2002, prosecutors allege.

Inside, Washington is accused of waving a gun and ordering one person to lie on the floor, while Jordan allegedly shot Jay in the head.

Despite several others being present in the studio at the time of the killing and more than $60,000 in rewards offered for information in the aftermath, witnesses remained tight-lipped and the case went cold for many years, frustrating police and Jay’s family.

Prosecutors say witnesses have now identified both Washington, 59, and Jordan, 40, as the assailants. They also claim Washington has made statements corroborating his involvement to law enforcement and others.

Washington was first named as a possible suspect in the slaying in 2007, while he was on trial for a string of armed robberies, though he maintained he had no involvement. In a Playboy article published several years earlier, he was quoted as saying he was on his way to the studio the night of the murder when he heard gunshots and saw Jordan fleeing.

Lawyers for Jordan said in court documents that his father was a “lifelong friend” of Jay’s and that their families had been neighbors. They say Jordan, then 18, was at his pregnant girlfriend’s home at the time of the murder and witnesses can place him there.

Jordan also faces gun and cocaine charges in the trial to which he has pleaded not guilty. While he has no prior adult criminal record, prosecutors allege he has continued to be involved in narcotics trafficking and say they have footage of him selling cocaine to an undercover agent.

The men face at least 20 years in prison if convicted. The government has said it would not seek the death penalty.

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