Hip-Hop Star's Godson and Childhood Friend Charged with Murder of Run-DMC's Jam Master Jay – KOMO News

Hip-hop star's godson and childhood friend accused of murdering Run-DMC's Jam Master Jay

FILE – Pedestrians pass a mural by artist Art1Airbrush of rap pioneer Jam Master Jay of Run-DMC in the New York City borough of Queens on Tuesday, August 18, 2020. (AP Photo/John Minchillo, File)


Two men accused of murdering Run-DMC's Jam Master Jay were both close to the pioneering DJ but were driven by “greed and revenge” over a failed drug deal when they ambushed him in his recording studio more than 20 years ago , prosecutors argued. The men's trial began on Monday.

In her opening statement in federal court in Brooklyn, Assistant U.S. Attorney Miranda Gonzalez laid out the prosecution's case that Karl Jordan Jr., the hip-hop star's godson, and Ronald Washington, a childhood friend of the 37-year-old in 2002 after they were cut out of a lucrative cocaine deal. Both men have pleaded not guilty.

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As the case languished for nearly two decades until Jordan and Washington were arrested in 2020 and became one of the hip-hop world's most elusive mysteries, Gonzalez told jurors that they would hear from eyewitnesses who were at the studio, and that the couple confessed their involvement to others.

Each defendant was proud to have defeated Jam Master Jay and gotten away scot-free,” she said.

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But Washington attorney Ezra Spilke argued the case was stuck with “tape and glue” and said prosecutors had “no idea” who killed Jay, born Jason Mizell.

“This case was about 10 seconds ago, so 21 years ago,” he said. “It’s the blink of an eye, a generation ago.”

If convicted, the men face at least 20 years in prison. The government has said it will not seek the death penalty.

Mizell worked alongside rappers Joe “Run” Simmons and Darryl “DMC” McDaniels as the group helped shape hip-hop in the 1980s with hits like “It's Tricky” and a remake of Aerosmith's “Walk This Way.” Bringing Hop into the mainstream.

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Run-DMC famously took an anti-drug stance in texts and PSAs, but Gonzalez said that as the attention faded, Mizell turned to drug trafficking, acting as a middleman for sellers and buyers across the country. A few simple calls, she said, could earn him “hundreds of thousands” of dollars.

Mizell allegedly purchased 22 pounds of the drug that Washington, Jordan and others intended to distribute in the Baltimore area. But the dealer involved in the sale refused to cooperate with Washington, depriving both defendants of a potential $200,000 payday, she claimed.

Gonzalez said Mizell appeared disturbed and was carrying a gun in the days before his death. But on the night of October 30, 2002, he barely had time to react when the two men and an accomplice, Jay Bryant, showed up at his studio in Jamaica, Queens. Bryant was charged last year after he was seen entering the building on the night of the murder and his DNA was recovered from the crime scene. He will be tried separately.

Prosecutors said Washington brandished a gun and ordered a person to lie on the ground while Jordan shot Mizell in the head at close range, killing him instantly. Another shot struck and wounded another man in the studio at the time, Mizell's friend Uriel “Tony” Rincon, before the killers fled, Gonzalez said.

It was a “brazen murder” of a world-famous musician, she said, but police struggled to close the case because witnesses did not fully cooperate and even left the state.

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Lawyers from Jordan and Washington argued that police still haven't figured it out and urged jurors to be skeptical of witnesses who cooperate in exchange for leniency on their own legal problems.

Spilke, Washington's attorney, questioned why his client wanted to kill Mizell since Washington was an alcoholic, dependent on the rap star financially and was living on Mizell's sister's couch at the time.

“Why bite the hand that feeds?” said Spilke. “Why kill the one man who helped you?”

In a Playboy article published a year after the murder, Washington was quoted as saying that he was on his way to the studio the night of the murder when he heard gunshots and saw Jordan fleeing.

Washington's lawyers also questioned Monday why none of the people who had Mizell at the time of his death bothered to call police.

Instead, Randy Allen, a friend and business associate who was among those present at the studio, went straight to a nearby police station to report the shooting, Washington's lawyers said as they cross-examined the case's first witness, James Lusk, a police officer. who was one of the first on the scene.

Jordan's lawyer John Diaz, meanwhile, said his client wasn't even in the studio that night. His lawyers have said in court papers that Jordan, then 18, was at his pregnant girlfriend's house at the time of Mizell's death and that witnesses could place him there. He was first mentioned as a possible suspect in the murder in 2007 when he was on trial for a series of armed robberies, although he insisted he had nothing to do with them.

Jordan also faces gun and cocaine possession charges in the trial, although he has pleaded not guilty. Although he has no adult criminal record, prosecutors allege he remains involved in the drug trade and say they have footage of him selling cocaine to an undercover officer.