Jam Master Jay killing: Two men found guilty of murder of Run-DMC star

Two men have been found guilty of the murder of Run-DMC star Jam Master Jay.

His godson Karl Jordan Jr and childhood friend Ronald Washington were charged with his killing in 2020 and have now been convicted by a jury in New York.

The 37-year-old victim, whose real name was Jason Mizell, was fatally shot in the head in his recording studio in 2002. He was part of Run-DMC, one of the best-known rap acts of the 1980s.

It was one of hip hop’s most infamous killings, along with those of rap icons Tupac Shakur and Notorious B.I.G.

Making his closing arguments, assistant US attorney Artie McConnell told jurors that “twenty years is a long time to wait for justice… don’t let this go on for another minute”.

FILE - Pedestrians pass a mural, by artist Art1Airbrush, of rap pioneer Jam Master Jay of Run-DMC, Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2020, in the Queens borough of New York. Opening statements are set for Monday in the federal murder trial of Karl Jordan Jr. and Ronald Washington, who were arrested in 2020 for the murder of Jam Master Jay. (AP Photo/John Minchillo, File)
A mural of Jam Master Jay in Queens. Pic: AP

After being found guilty, Washington, 59, yelled at the jury: “Y’all just killed two innocent people.”

Jordan, 40, told his supporters “I love y’all” as they erupted at the sentencing, before he and Washington were escorted out by US Marshalls.

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The prosecution had alleged the motive for the killing was a drug deal gone bad. Both Washington and Jordan had pleaded not guilty.

A third man, Jay Bryant, was arrested and charged in 2023 and he will be tried separately in 2025 or 2026.

Authorities had publicly named Washington as a suspect in in Mr Mizell’s killing as far back as 2007.

He denied taking part in the shooting, and told Playboy magazine in 2003 he’d been outside the studio when he heard gunfire, and saw “Little D” – one of Jordan’s nicknames – running out of the building.

Two eyewitnesses – former studio aide Uriel Rincon and Lydia High, former business manager for Mr Mizell – testified that Washington blocked the door and ordered Ms High to lie on the floor before the shooting.

Ms High said Washington brandished a gun, while Mr Rincon said that Jordan had approached the rapper and was exchanging a friendly greeting just before shots were fired. He also testified that he was hit by one bullet.

Three others, including a teenage singer at the studio to tout her demo tape, also testified that they were in an adjoining room, saying that they heard, but did not see, the incident.

Other witnesses testified that Washington and Jordan made incriminating statements about the killing after it happened.

***FILE PHOTO*** 2 Indicted In The Murder Of Jam Master Jay Of Run-DMC. Run-D.M.C. HIGHER RATES APPLY Credit: RTmalluk / MediaPunch. Run DMC /IPX
Reverend Run, Jam Master Jay and Darryl McDaniels in 1987. Pic: AP

Lawyers defending Washington and Jordan questioned the credibility of the witnesses, noting that some initially denied they could identify the attackers or had heard who they were

Susan Kellman, one of the defences lawyers, told the judge: “Virtually every witness changed their testimony 180 degrees.”

Breon Peace, US attorney for New York’s Eastern District, told reporters outside the courthouse after the verdict that “it is no mystery why it took years to indict and arrest the defendants”.

“The witnesses in the recording studio knew the killers,” he said, “and they were terrified that they would be retaliated against if they cooperated with law enforcement and identified the ruthless executioners of Mr Mizell.”

Run-DMC, who stood against drugs in their song lyrics, was made up of Mr Mizell, Joe “Run” Simmons and Darryl “DMC” McDaniels.

Their hits include King Of Rock, It’s Tricky and a reworking of Aerosmith’s Walk This Way.

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