Two suspects found guilty of hip-hop pioneer Jam Master Jay’s 2002 murder

A CHILDHOOD friend and the godson of Run-DMC DJ Jam Master Jay have been convicted of the hip-hop pioneer’s infamous 2002 murder.

The trailblazing musician was shot dead in the lounge section of his recording studio in Queens, New York, on October 30, 2002, in what prosecutors said was fueled by a drug deal gone bad.

Run-DMC DJ Jam Master Jay was shot dead in his Queens, New York, recording studio on October 30, 2002
Run-DMC DJ Jam Master Jay was shot dead in his Queens, New York, recording studio on October 30, 2002Credit: AP
Jam Master Jay, born Jason Mizell, was a founding member of the hip-hop hitmaking group Run-DMC along with  Joseph
Jam Master Jay, born Jason Mizell, was a founding member of the hip-hop hitmaking group Run-DMC along with  Joseph “Run” Simmons and Darryl “DMC” McDanielsCredit: Michael Ochs Archives – Getty
Investigators said Karl Jordan Jr., Jam Master Jay's godson, was the triggerman who fired the fatal shot
Investigators said Karl Jordan Jr., Jam Master Jay’s godson, was the triggerman who fired the fatal shotCredit: NYPD
For more than two decades, Jam Master Jay's murder went unsolved
For more than two decades, Jam Master Jay’s murder went unsolvedCredit: Reuters

Jam Master Jay’s murder sent shockwaves throughout the hip-hop world due to his affiliation and status as a member of Run-DMC – one of the most influential groups in hip-hop who are credited with bringing the genre mainstream.

For more than two decades, the Run-DMC DJ’s fatal shooting was among the most notorious unsolved murders of a hip-hop artist.

On Tuesday, a jury found Ronald Washington, 59, and Karl Jordan Jr., 40, guilty nearly 22 years after the high-profile murder.

Both plan to appeal their convictions.

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During the trial, prosecutors revealed that the cash-strapped DJ, real name Jason Mizell, turned to drug dealing on the side to make ends meet.

Prosecutors said that, at the time, Mizell was moving drugs for cash, quietly acting as a middleman between cocaine suppliers and street dealers for at least six years before his death.

Mizell, who was the master DJ scratching records and dropping beats for MCs Joseph “Run” Simmons and Darryl “DMC” McDaniels, struggled to make a living after the prominent hip-hop group’s fame died down in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

“The money wasn’t coming in,” prosecutor Miranda Gonzalez told jurors in the federal trial in Brooklyn.

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Ironically, Mizell once even recorded a “Say No to Drugs” public service announcement with his Run-DMC bandmates.

Michael Rapley, one of the five people present in the Queens studio at the time of the shooting, told the jury that Mizell lent money to “everybody that was around him” and even paid for his mother’s funeral.

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The legendary DJ tried to keep his drug dealing lifestyle under wraps, but closer to his death, he began carrying a gun, Stephon Watford, Mizell’s cousin, testified.

‘BRAZEN CRIME’

Prosecutors said that Washington, who was Mizell’s childhood friend and grew up together in Hollis, Queens, plotted to kill the Run-DMC DJ after the hip-hop icon cut him out of a drug deal worth almost $200,000.

Washington, Jordan Jr., who prosecutors said was Mizell’s godson, and a third suspect, Jay Bryant, who will be tried on murder charges separately, busted into the Queens recording studio with guns.

Prosecutors said Jordan Jr. approached Mizell and fired two shots at him at close range, killing him.

“It was a brazen crime,” Gonzalez told the jury during opening statements.

” It was an ambush — an execution — and you’ll learn it was motivated by greed and revenge.

“They had killed a world-famous musician in front of people they knew.”

The shooting also injured a friend of Mizell’s, Urieco Rincon, 25, who was sitting next to him. He was shot in the ankle but survived.

For years, Rincon maintained that he did not know the identity of the gunman who killed Mizell.

But during the trial, Rincon confessed to omitting the truth.

“I was confused and scared. I just saw a bunch of people that I know with something I’d never seen.

“I didn’t understand what I saw, and I didn’t understand why or who – because, again, it was somebody I knew. So that’s why it was hard for me to grasp,” he continued.

The grisly killing went unsolved until 2020, when investigators arrested Washington and Jordan Jr. and charged them with murder while engaged in narcotics trafficking.

‘THEY KNOW WHO KILLED JAM MASTER JAY’

During closing arguments, Washington and Jordan Jr.’s defense attorneys pointed the finger at Jay Bryant, calling him the “real killer” after a hat next to Mizell’s body contained only his DNA.

The attorneys underscored that Bryant was the only defendant seen on a security camera entering the recording studio on the night of the murder.

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

“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,” Susan Kellman, Washington’s attorney, said.

“They have no case against anybody except Jay Bryant.”

Bryant was arrested in 2023 and charged in connection with the murder.

He will be tried separately. He has pleaded not guilty to all charges.

All three suspects are facing life in prison.

LEGACY CONTINUES

Run-DMC rocketed to the top of the charts in the 1980s, ushering in the golden age of hip hop with their hit singles Walk This Way, My Adidas, and It’s Tricky.

The group helped to define the hip-hop genre alongside Beastie Boys, LL Cool J, DJ Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince, and Public Enemy.

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In 1989, Mizell founded his label Jam Master Jay Records, which signed superstars 50 Cent and Onyx.

The label discontinued operations after Mizell was murdered.

The body of Jam Master Jay was pictured being removed from his recording studio on the night of his murder
The body of Jam Master Jay was pictured being removed from his recording studio on the night of his murderCredit: AP:Associated Press
From left to right, Run DMC members Joseph 'Run' Simmons, Darryl 'DMC McDaniels, and DJ Jam Master Jay
From left to right, Run DMC members Joseph ‘Run’ Simmons, Darryl ‘DMC McDaniels, and DJ Jam Master JayCredit: Getty – Contributor

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