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Two Men Convicted of Murdering Run-DMC Star Jam Master Jay | Entertainment and Arts News

Two individuals have been convicted for the murder of Run-DMC member Jam Master Jay.

Karl Jordan Jr, Jam Master Jay’s godson, and Ronald Washington, his childhood friend, were found guilty of killing the DJ as an act of revenge for being excluded from a cocaine deal.

The victim, aged 37, whose real name was Jason Mizell, was fatally shot in the head at his recording studio in New York in 2002.

This murder became one of the most notorious in hip-hop history, alongside the killings of Tupac Shakur and Notorious B.I.G.

During the closing arguments, assistant US attorney Artie McConnell urged jurors not to delay justice any longer, emphasizing the significance of bringing the perpetrators to account after 20 years.

Both Washington, 59, and Jordan, 40, denied the charges and chose not to testify. Despite being found guilty, Washington protested the verdict, accusing the jury of condemning innocent individuals.

Jordan expressed his love for his supporters before he and Washington were escorted out of the courtroom by US marshals.

They were convicted on charges of murder in connection with a narcotics trafficking conspiracy and firearm-related murder. A sentencing date has yet to be scheduled.

The attorneys for both men have requested the judge to set aside the guilty verdict and acquit them.

Jam Master Jay, DMC and DJ Run pose in New York, 5 April 2001. File pic: AP
(L-R) Jason Mizell, Darryl ‘DMC’ McDaniels and Joseph ‘Run’ Simmons in New York in April 2001. Pic: AP

Run-DMC, known for their anti-drug message in their music, consisted of Mizell, Joseph “Run” Simmons, and Darryl “DMC” McDaniels.

They achieved success with hits like King Of Rock, It’s Tricky, and a cover of Aerosmith’s Walk This Way.

Prosecutors stated that in the 1990s, Mizell turned to drug dealing to support his music career.

Jordan and Washington were alleged to have conspired to kill Mizell after he excluded them from a drug deal in Baltimore valued at nearly $200,000 (£157,000).

Jam Master Jay performs in Las Vegas in May 2001. Pic: Reuters
Jam Master Jay performs in Las Vegas in May 2001. Pic: Reuters

Washington ‘seen at studio with gun’

Washington was identified as a suspect in Mizell’s murder as early as 2007.

Despite doubts about his involvement, Washington claimed in a 2003 Playboy interview that he was outside the studio in Queens when he heard gunshots and saw Jordan running out of the building.

Witnesses Uriel Rincon and Lydia High testified that Washington blocked the door and instructed Ms. High to lie down.

***FILE PHOTO*** Run-DMC in 1987. Pic: AP
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Ms. High testified that she saw Washington with a gun shortly before the shooting, while Rincon stated that Jordan had a friendly interaction with Mizell just before the gunshots. Rincon also mentioned that he was hit by a bullet.

Other individuals present, including a teenage singer, testified that they were in an adjacent room and heard but did not witness the incident.

Additional witnesses disclosed that Washington and Jordan made incriminating comments after the murder.

Witnesses ‘terrified’ of retaliation

Legal representatives for Washington and Jordan questioned the reliability of the witnesses, highlighting that some initially denied identifying the attackers or knowing their identities.

Susan Kellman, one of the defense attorneys, informed the judge that “almost every witness completely changed their testimony.”

Breon Peace, US attorney for New York’s Eastern District, explained to the press outside the court that the defendants’ indictments were delayed due to witnesses’ fear of retaliation from the killers who were known to individuals in the recording studio.

Third suspect to stand trial in 2026

A third suspect, Jay Bryant, was arrested and charged in 2023 in connection with the murder.

Bryant, accused of enabling Jordan and Washington to access the studio through a fire escape door, is set to be tried in January 2026, as confirmed by the US Department of Justice.

During the trial of Jordan and Washington, Bryant’s uncle testified that his nephew confessed to shooting Mizell after the DJ reached for a gun – a scenario not supported by other witnesses.

McConnell clarified in court that Bryant was involved in the crime but did not pull the trigger.

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