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2 men are found guilty for the 2002 killing of Run-DMC's Jam Master Jay

A Brooklyn federal jury delivered guilty verdicts in the trial of Karl Jordan Jr. and Ronald Washington in the killing of Run-D.M.C.'s Jason Mizell, Jam-Master Jay, shown here in 1986.
G. Paul Burnett
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AP
A Brooklyn federal jury delivered guilty verdicts in the trial of Karl Jordan Jr. and Ronald Washington in the killing of Run-D.M.C.'s Jason Mizell, Jam-Master Jay, shown here in 1986.

More than 21 years after the death of Jam Master Jay, one-third of the legendary hip-hop trio Run-DMC, a jury has found two men guilty of his murder.

Ronald Washington and Karl Jordan Jr. were convicted Tuesday and face a minimum of 20 years in prison and a maximum life sentence for the 2002 killing of Jam Master Jay, born Jason Mizell, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of New York.

Mizell, 37, found success as the DJ for Run-DMC, which also included rappers Joseph "Run" Simmons and Darryl "DMC" McDaniels. The group is considered one of the first mainstream acts in hip-hop and cranked out hits such as 1984's "It's Like That" and 1986's "It's Tricky."

"More than two decades after they killed Jason Mizell in his recording studio, Jordan and Washington have finally been held accountable for their cold-blooded crime driven by greed and revenge," U.S. Attorney Breon Peace said. "That the victim, professionally known as Jam Master Jay, was a hip hop icon and Run-DMC's music was born in Hollis, Queens, in this very district, and beloved by so many, adds to the tragedy of a life senselessly cut short."

Carlis Thompson, cousin of slain Run-DMC star Jam Master Jay, speaks to media outside the United States Eastern District Courthouse, Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2024, in Brooklyn, New York.
Peter K. Afriyie / AP
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AP
Carlis Thompson, cousin of slain Run-DMC star Jam Master Jay, speaks to media outside the United States Eastern District Courthouse, Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2024, in Brooklyn, New York.

Along with making music, Mizell had also been selling cocaine, and in August 2002, he received 10 kilograms on consignment to sell in the Maryland area, prosecutors said. Washington and Jordan were brought in on the deal, which was worth almost $200,000. But after a disagreement between Washington and another participant, Mizell cut Washington and Jordan out of the deal, prosecutors said.

In an act that prosecutors called one of revenge, at about 7:30 p.m. on Oct. 30, 2002, Washington and Jordan entered a fire escape at the back of Mizell's recording studio in Jamaica, Queens, in New York City. They did so with the help of a third man who allegedly unlocked the fire escape. (He will be tried in a separate case in January 2026.)

Mizell was playing video games and going over documents with his business manager, and greeted the two men as they entered. Jordan, who is Mizell's godson, then pulled a gun out and shot Mizell twice in the head at close range. He died on the scene, the district attorney's office said.

A friend of Mizell's was shot in the leg, while his business manager tried to escape but was ordered to the ground with a gun pointing in her face.

During the four-week trial, witnesses testified that Washington and Jordan admitted to and bragged about shooting Mizell. A resident who lived in a property owned by Jordan's father said she overheard Jordan say if Mizell were alive, "he would kill him again." An ex-girlfriend of Washington's said he confessed his involvement to her days after the murder.

In their testimonies, the person shot in the leg that night named Jordan as the shooter, and Mizell's business manager identified Washington as the one who pointed a gun at her.

"Today's guilty verdicts provides proof that the passage of time provides no safe harbor to those who commit murder," said John DeVito, the special agent-in-charge at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). "For us in ATF, our memory is long, and our resolve is steadfast. We have no tolerance for those who would take a life, and we are committed to seeing justice done."

Copyright 2024 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Ayana Archie

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