Jam Master Jay's Godson and Longtime Friend Found Guilty of His Murder

The cold case finally comes to a close after 22 long years.

Music
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Two men have convicted of killing Run-D.M.C.’s Jam Master Jay, real name Jason Mizell, in 2002.

The Associated Press reports that 40-year-old Karl Jordan Jr. and 59-year-old Ronald Washington — Mizell’s godson and longtime friend, respectively — murdered the hip-hop pioneer in his studio on October 30, 2002 as a form of revenge after a drug deal fell through. Witnesses testified during the trial that Jam Master Jay intended on selling 10 kilograms of cocaine via Jordan, Washington and another dealer in Baltimore, but the latter declined to work with Washington. The two then decided to kill the artist, with Uriel Rincon, an ex-studio aide Uriel Rincon, and Lydia High, Mizell’s business manager testifying that Washington blocked the studio door, took out a gun and ordered her to get on the ground. Rincon added that Jordan and Jam Master Jay “exchanged a friendly greeting” just before the sound of gunshots, with one bullet wounding the former studio staff.

Three witnesses who were in a different studio room during the shooting testified to hearing the commotion, but did not see anything. Others alleged that Jordan and Washington “made incriminating statements” regarding Jam Master Jay’s killing following his death.

The legal teams of Jordan and Washington disputed the credibility and the memories of the witnesses, claiming that some of them previously stated that they would not be able to identify the killers nor heard any murmurs about their identities. These witnesses, however, attested that they were “overwhelmed, loath to pass along secondhand information or scared for their lives.” The killers’ identities, however, have been tied to the case for a while now, with law enforcement publicly naming Washington as a suspect as early as 2007; he revealed to Playboy in 2003 that he was outside the studio, heard gunshots and saw “Little D,” supposedly a nickname of Jordan’s, run out of the building.

Jordan and Washington’s trial also alleged that Jay Bryant, a third defendant whose DNA was found on a hat at the crime scene, secretly entered the building to let the killers in through a fire door in the back. He has pleaded not guilty and will be tried separately.

Following the guilty verdict, Washington told the jury, “Y’all just killed two innocent people,” while Jordan’s advocates cursed at the jury. “My client did not do this. And the jury heard testimony about the person who did,” Susan Kellman, one of Washington’s attorneys, said to reporters.

“It’s no mystery why it took years to indict and arrest the defendants,” Breon Peace, the top federal prosecutor in Brooklyn, said, adding that witnesses “were terrified that they would be retaliated against if they cooperated with law enforcement.” He continued, “Their strength and resolve in testifying at this trial were a triumph of right over wrong and courage over fear.”

“I feel like I was carrying a 2,000-pound weight on my shoulders. And when that verdict came today, it lifted it off,” Carlis Thompson, Mizell’s cousin, said after the verdict. “The wounds can start to heal now.”

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