Jam Master Jay: 2 men convicted in 2002 killing of Run-DMC disc jockey

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NEW YORK — Two men were found guilty on Tuesday in the 2002 shooting death of Run-DMC disc jockey Jam Master Jay.

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A federal jury in Brooklyn, New York, delivered the verdict against Karl Jordan Jr., 40, and Ronald Washington, 59, in the death of the D.J., whose real name was Jason Mizell, The New York Times reported.

Jordan, who was Mizell’s godson, was accused of shooting the D.J. in the head. Washington, who was a longtime friend of the hip-hop star, was accused of aiding Jordan in the killing, according to the newspaper.

Mizell was killed in his studio in the New York City borough of Queens on Oct. 30, 2002, The Associated Press reported.

Prosecutors alleged that Mizell attempted to exclude Washington — nicknamed Tinard — from a large narcotics transaction, according to WABC-TV. They added that the disc jockey’s shooting was a retaliatory response by Washington and Jordan, who was nicknamed Little D.

“More than two decades after they killed Jason Mizell in his recording studio, Jordan and Washington have finally been held accountable for their cold-blooded crime driven by greed and revenge,” Breon Pearce, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, said in a statement. “That the victim, professionally known as Jam Master Jay, was a hip hop icon and Run-DMC’s music was born in Hollis, Queens, in this very district, and beloved by so many, adds to the tragedy of a life senselessly cut short.  I thank the jurors for their service, and I commend our prosecutors, the NYPD detectives, both active and retired, and the Special Agents and investigators from the ATF and my office, for their relentless pursuit of justice for the victim, his family, and the community.”

Mizell was 37 when he was shot, not far from the Hollis neighborhood that spawned Run-DMC. The group was named for Joseph Simmons, known as Run; and Darryl McDaniels, known as DMC, the Times reported.

The group helped put hip-hop into the mainstream of pop music during the 1980s, with the hit “It’s Tricky” and a collaboration with Aerosmith on that band’s hit, “Walk This Way,” according to the AP.

Prosecutors called 35 witnesses during the monthlong trial, the Times reported. Key witnesses were Lydia High, who worked for Mizell’s record label; and Tony Rincon, an assistant to the victim, according to the newspaper.

For years, there had been no arrests in the case, CNN reported. That changed in August 2020, when the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York unsealed a criminal indictment naming Jordan and Washington.

A third defendant, Jay Bryant, was charged in May 2023 with murder while engaged in narcotics trafficking and firearm-related murder, according to the cable news outlet. He has pleaded not guilty; his trial is scheduled to begin in January 2026.

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