Jam Master Jay killing: Jury reaches verdict in murder trial of Run-DMC’s DJ


Two men were found guilty of murder Tuesday in the 2002 killing of Jam Master Jay, the pioneering DJ of the groundbreaking hip hop trio Run-DMC, in a case that for decades frustrated detectives and music fans alike.

Ronald Washington, Jay’s childhood friend, and Karl Jordan Jr., Jay’s godson, were convicted of murder while engaged in narcotics trafficking and firearm-related murder.

The federal jury first began deliberations last Thursday, but after a juror was dismissed and replaced by an alternate, they began deliberations anew on Monday at 1 p.m. In total, the jury deliberated for about 10 hours.

Jam Master Jay, born Jason Mizell, was fatally shot at a recording studio in Jamaica, Queens, on October 30, 2002. For years, no one was arrested in the killing, leaving one of the most shocking shootings in music history unsolved.

Finally, in August 2020, the US attorney for the Eastern District of New York unsealed a criminal indictment alleging Washington and Jordan conspired to kill Jam Master Jay in retaliation for a drug dispute.

A third defendant, Jay Bryant, was charged in May 2023 with murder while engaged in narcotics trafficking and firearm-related murder. He has pleaded not guilty and is set to go on trial separately in January 2026.

At this trial, a witness who was at the recording studio that night testified Washington and Jordan came in armed, and he alleged Jordan shot Jay in the head. The witness, Uriel Rincon, said he had kept the attackers’ identities secret because he was “confused and scared,” according to CNN affiliate WABC.

Run-D.M.C.'s Jason Mizell, Jam-Master Jay, at New York's Madison Square Garden in October 1986.

“It’s about greed. It’s about money. It’s about jealousy,” Assistant US Attorney Artie McConnell said in the prosecution’s closing arguments. “And it’s about the actions of two men, Karl Jordan, Jr., and Ronald Washington, that the evidence proves are killers.”

However, defense attorneys said in closing arguments that the real killer was Bryant. A hat found next to Jam Master Jay’s body contained only Bryant’s DNA, and Bryant was the only defendant seen on a security camera, according to the attorneys.

“Jay Bryant is literally reasonable doubt in this case,” said Michael Hueston, Jordan’s attorney.

“This is an attempt to make a mockery of the judicial system. They know who killed Jam Master Jay. They know it was Jay Bryant,” said Susan Kellman, Washington’s attorney. “They have no case against anybody except Jay Bryant.”

This is a developing story and will be updated.

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