Trial in Jam Master Jay’s 2002 Killing to Begin in Brooklyn

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The killing of Jam Master Jay, the Run-DMC D.J., sent shock waves through hip-hop. On Monday, two men will stand trial on charges of murdering him.

More than 20 years after the hip-hop D.J. Jam Master Jay was gunned down in his Queens recording studio, two men charged in the killing will face a federal jury in Brooklyn in a trial set to start Monday.

Jam Master Jay, whose real name was Jason Mizell, of the seminal group Run-DMC, was 37 when he died in a crime that remained unresolved for nearly two decades. The two defendants, Karl Jordan Jr., 40, and Ronald Washington, 59, were charged in 2020, when federal prosecutors accused them of plotting to kill Mr. Mizell after he cut Mr. Washington out of a drug deal. A third man, Jay Bryant, who was also charged in connection with the murder last year, will be tried separately.

Prosecutors said that the defendants burst into the studio with guns on the evening of Oct. 30, 2002. Mr. Jordan then approached Mr. Mizell, firing two shots at him at close range, they say. One of the bullets struck Mr. Mizell in the head; another man was wounded in the leg. Four other people were in the studio at the time, but none identified the killers immediately after the shooting.

The jury in the trial of Mr. Washington and Mr. Jordan will be anonymous: Their names will not be revealed to the defendants or their lawyers. In court papers filed this month, prosecutors said the defendants and “those acting on their behalf” had already tried to intimidate witnesses in the case.

Mr. Washington, also known as Tinard, has already served significant jail time for crimes including heroin distribution and armed robbery. Mr. Jordan, known as Little D, who was 18 when Mr. Mizell was killed, had no adult criminal record when he was arrested in 2020, though prosecutors said in a filing that he had been in the drug trade for years before then. The 2020 indictment included several additional narcotics distribution counts against Mr. Jordan.

The defendants and Mr. Mizell grew up in Hollis, Queens — a neighborhood that produced some of the biggest names in early hip-hop.

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