Two Men Accused of Murdering Run-DMC's Jam Master Jay in 2002 Found Guilty

A verdict was reached in the case involving the murder of the Run-DMC member and a drug deal gone bad over 20 years after his death on Tuesday

Martyn Goodacre/Getty Images Jam Master Jay
Martyn Goodacre/Getty Images Jam Master Jay

A verdict has been reached in the Jam Master Jay murder trial.

The two men accused of killing Jason “Jay” Mizell, known professionally as Jam Master Jay, in his recording studio on Oct. 30, 2002, were found guilty by a jury in Brooklyn federal court on Tuesday, according to Rolling Stone,

Both of the defendants — Mizell’s godson, Karl Jordan Jr., and his childhood friend, Ronald Washington — pleaded not guilty in the case, which prosecutors described as a drug deal gone bad.

The Associated Press reports that outbursts erupted in the court room after the jury announced their decision, with Jordan's supporters shouting and Washington telling the jurors, "Y’all just killed two innocent people."

Jordan and Washington face at least 20 years in prison, with their sentencing to be decided at a later date, per Rolling Stone.

<p>Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images</p> Jam Master Jay

Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Jam Master Jay

Related: Jam Master Jay's Murder Trial Begins as Prosecutors Claim Killers Were Motivated by 'Greed and Revenge'

Neither defendant testified during the trial and jurors reached their decision nearly a week after the prosecution and defense teams made their closing arguments. The AP reports that the defense questioned the witness' memory in their final remarks, while the prosecution emphasized the elements of greed and vengeance in the case.

"20 years is a long time to wait for justice,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Artie McConnell reportedly said. “Don’t let this go on for another minute.”

The verdict was reached nearly four years after the defendants were arrested in August 2020 when  federal prosecutors accused them of plotting to kill the Run-DMC member after he removed Washington from a drug deal.

The trial began earlier this year in January, over two decades after the hip-hop icon's death at age 37 when he was shot in the head while playing video games in his studio in Queens.

During the opening statements, assistant U.S. attorney Miranda Gonzalez said, “It was an ambush — an execution — and you’ll learn it was motivated by greed and revenge," as reported by the AP.

<p>Bob Berg/Getty Images</p> Darryl "DMC" McDaniels, Jason "Jam Master Jay" Mizell and Joseph "Run" Simmons of Run DMC

Bob Berg/Getty Images

Darryl "DMC" McDaniels, Jason "Jam Master Jay" Mizell and Joseph "Run" Simmons of Run DMC

Related: Third Man Charged in Fatal 2002 Shooting of Run-DMC's Jam Master Jay

According to The New York Times, despite still working in music at the time of his death, the prosecution explained during the trial that the DJ became involved as a drug middleman because “the money wasn’t coming in” and “people still depended on him.”

The prosecution alleged that the rapper was murdered by the two defendants when they were cut out of a potentially lucrative deal involving 22 lbs. (10 kilograms) of cocaine.

During the October 2002 incident, Washington allegedly ordered one person in the studio to lie on the floor and Jordan instantly killed Mizell, per AP.

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Among the other people at the studio at the time was Mizell's friend/assistant Uriel “Tony” Rincon, who was shot and wounded, and a JMJ Records employee, Lydia High. As reported by Rolling Stone, the two appeared as witnesses and gave testimonies in the trial.

Rincon reportedly identified both defendants, while High was able to identify Washington and said his assailant had a tattoo that resembled Jordan's. According to Rolling Stone, when the defense asked during the cross-examination why they never previously shared their identities with investigators, they both admitted to being afraid at the time.

<p>Michael Ochs Archives/Getty</p> Joseph "Run" Simmons, Darryl "DMC" McDaniels and Jason "Jam Master Jay" Mizell of Run DMC

Michael Ochs Archives/Getty

Joseph "Run" Simmons, Darryl "DMC" McDaniels and Jason "Jam Master Jay" Mizell of Run DMC

Related: Run-DMC's Darryl McDaniels Is Getting Vulnerable About His Mental Health: 'It's a Sign of Strength' (Exclusive)

A third man, Jay Bryant, was also arrested as an alleged accomplice in May 2023. He will be tried separately and has also pleaded not guilty.

Washington previously served jail time for crimes of armed robbery and heroin distribution. Meanwhile, Jordan — who was 18 when Mizell was killed — did not have a criminal record at the time of his 2020 arrest. However, prosecutors allege that Jordan had a role in the drug trade for years, and as a result, Jordan was charged with additional narcotics distribution counts in 2020.

Jam Master Jay has been credited, along with Run-DMC, as one of the pioneer's of hip-hop and one of the first acts within the genre to break into the mainstream in the '80s.

The "It's Tricky" group disbanded following the turntable legend's death.

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