2 Guilty of Murdering Hip-Hop Legend

2002 killing of RUN-DMC member Jam Master Jay was unsolved for many years
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 27, 2024 4:58 PM CST
2 Guilty of Murder in Jam Master Jay Killing
Run-DMC's Jason Mizell, aka Jam Master Jay, at New York's Madison Square Garden, Oct. 7, 1986, in New York. n.   (AP Photo/G. Paul Burnett, File)

For many years, it was one of New York City's most notorious unsolved murders. Now, two men have been found guilty of murdering Jason Mizell—better known as Jam Master Jay from RUN-DMC—in his Queens recording studio on October 30, 2002. A federal jury found Karl Jordan Jr., the hip-hop DJ's godson, and Ronald Washington, a longtime friend, guilty on charges of murder while engaged in a narcotics trafficking conspiracy and firearm-related murder. The two men were indicted in 2020. CNN reports that a fight almost broke out as the verdict was announced Tuesday, with supporters of both men shouting at the jury. "Y'all just killed some innocent people," Washington said.

Prosecutors presented 35 witnesses over the monthlong trial, including two employees of Mizell's JMJ Records label. Tony Rincon identified Jordan as the shooter and Lydia High said she was held at gunpoint by Washington during the killing, the New York Times reports. Prosecutors said Jordan and his associates had long intimidated the pair and other witnesses. RUN-DMC helped bring rap into the mainstream in the 1980s, but Mizell became a middleman in cocaine deals after the trio's career faded, prosecutors said. "He was a man who got involved in the drug game to take care of the people who depended on him," Assistant US Attorney Artie McConnell said in his closing argument.

Prosecutors said Jordan and Washington killed Mizell for revenge after they were left out of a drug deal. TMZ reports that Jordan, 40, and Washington, 59, will face sentences of at least 20 years in prison. A third man charged in the murder will go on trial in 2026. Jay Bryant allegedly propped open a back door at the studio, allowing Jordan and Washington to enter, the Times reports. (More Run-DMC stories.)

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