Jam Master Jay: Godson and childhood friend guilty of Run-DMC star's murder

Jam Master Jay: Godson and childhood friend guilty of Run-DMC star's murder
Jam Master Jay: Godson and childhood friend guilty of Run-DMC star's murder

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Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - NEW YORK — The godson and a childhood friend of Run-DMC star Jam Master Jay have been convicted of his murder in New York City more than two decades ago.

Karl Jordan Jr, 40, and Ronald Washington, 59, targeted the musician at his recording studio after being cut out of a drug deal, the trial heard.

The hip-hop pioneer, real name Jason Mizell, was 37 when he was shot in the head in Queens on 30 October 2002.

Jordan and Washington now face 20 years to life in prison.

"Y'all just killed two innocent people," Washington yelled at the jury after the guilty verdict, according to the Associated Press. Jordan's supporters also began shouting and cursed the jury.

Mizell formed Run-DMC with friends Joseph Simmons and Darryl McDaniels, all of whom grew up in the Hollis neighbourhood in the New York borough of Queens.

The group became one of the most influential hip-hop acts of all time and had a string of hits in the 1980s including tracks such as It's Tricky, It's Like That and Aerosmith collaboration Walk This Way.

Although the group was publicly against drug use and made anti-drug public service announcements, Mizell turned to cocaine trafficking as their popularity began to fade in the 1990s.

Prosecutors said Jordan, Mizell's godson, and Washington, a childhood friend who was staying with Mizell's sister, thought they would be part of a drug deal worth nearly $200,000, and were angered when they were cut out.

During a four-week trial, defense lawyer Ezra Spilke called the prosecution's account of events "one version of many".

The defense also challenged the accuracy of eyewitness testimony after so many years.

But prosecutors called dozens of witnesses, introduced forensic evidence and said the accused carried out an "execution" that was "motivated by greed and by revenge".

Although the two defendants had been suspected in the case for years, the murder remained unsolved before they were charged by federal prosecutors in 2020.

Two key eyewitnesses denied they could identify the killers for years until they changed their stories after the case was reopened in 2016.

Uriel "Tony" Rincon testified that he was playing a video game with Mizell when Jordan walked into the room, shook hands with the hip-hop star and then started shooting.

"And then I see Jay just fall," he said.

A woman who worked for Mizell's JMJ Records label, Lydia High, also witnessed the shooting and said Washington ordered her to the floor as the killers made their escape.

Both witnesses said fear prevented them from identifying the killers earlier.

"I felt that [Mizell's] wife and his children needed closure, and I felt that they should know what took place," Rincon testified during the trial.

Other witnesses testified that Jordan bragged about carrying out the killing.

"The witnesses in the recording studio knew the killers, and they were terrified that they would be retaliated against if they cooperated with law enforcement," US prosecutor Breon Peace told reporters after the verdict.

Another man, Jay Bryant, is facing a separate trial in relation to this case.

He is expected to appear in court in 2026, accused of letting Jordan and Washington through the back door of the studio Mizell was in. — BBC

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