Murder Trial for Killer of Run-DMC’s Jam Master Jay Begins

( – Run-DMC is a popular hip-hop group that formed in 1983, originating out of Queens, New York. It’s widely regarded as one of the most influential groups of the genre, even decades later. In October 2002, one of its members, Jam Master Jay, was killed, shot at point-blank range. It took nearly 20 years for law enforcement to arrest two suspects in the case, and it’s now going to trial.

The Murder

Jam Master Jay, born Jason Mizell, died on October 30, 2002, at his studio. For nearly 20 years, there was no arrest in the case until authorities honed in on Ronald Washington, Mizell’s childhood friend, and Karl Jordan Jr., his godson. Prosecutors say the two men were cut out of a lucrative drug deal, and that served as the motive for Mizell’s death.

The fact that Jam Master Jay would be involved in the drug trade is a bit of irony, considering that the hip-hop group was very anti-drugs in both its public service announcements and its lyrics. Yet Mizell was said to have turned to the trade when the group faded into obscurity. He allegedly took on the role of a middleman between buyers and sellers across the US.

When a dealer refused to work with Mizell’s childhood friend, Washington, prosecutors claim he and Jordan hatched a plan to kill Mizell. They, along with one other person, allegedly entered the hip-hop star’s studio and shot him.

Trial Begins in Brooklyn Federal Court

Assistant US Attorney Miranda Gonzalez believes that “greed and revenge” were the two factors at play in the crime. In her opening statements on Monday, January 29, she alleged that there were eyewitness accounts that placed the men in the studio at the time of the crime and that “Each defendant was proud” they had gotten away with the murder, confessing their sins to others.

Ezra Spilke, Washington’s attorney, said the prosecution’s case is weak, with only “tape and glue” to hold it together. Washington was first considered a suspect in 2007 and has previously been on trial for a string of robberies. He is facing murder charges.

Jordan’s lawyer is playing up the fact that the two were lifelong friends with close-knit families, while the prosecution alleges that he continued in the drug trade after Mizell’s death. They claim to have video of him selling to an undercover agent. Jordan is facing murder charges as well as cocaine and gun charges.

Both men have pleaded not guilty to the charges against them and face at least 20 years in prison if convicted.

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