Trial begins for two accused of killing Run-DMC DJ more than 20 years ago

NEW YORK –

Two men charged with murder in the death of Run-DMC star Jam Master Jay will go on trial Monday, more than 20 years after the pioneering DJ was gunned down in his New York City recording studio. York.

Opening statements are scheduled in federal court in Brooklyn for the murder trial of Karl Jordan Jr. and Ronald Washington, who prosecutors say killed Jay, 37, over a drug deal in 2002. Both men They have declared themselves innocent.

Jay, born Jason Mizell, worked the turntables alongside rappers Joe “Run” Simmons and Darryl “DMC” McDaniels as the group helped bring hip-hop to the mainstream in the 1980s with hits such as “It’s Tricky” and a new version of Aerosmith’s “Walk This Way.”

His murder shook the hip-hop world and led the group to disband, but the case was not solved until the two men from his Queens neighborhood were arrested in 2020. A third man was charged in the shooting last year and will stand trial. separately.

Run-DMC took an anti-drug stance in lyrics and public service announcements, but prosecutors allege that Jay became involved in cocaine trafficking in the mid-1990s. Before his murder, they say he had acquired 10 kilograms (22 pounds ) of the drug, which Washington, Jordan and others were going to distribute in Maryland.

Washington, however, had a dispute with another person involved in the scheme and Jay cut him out of the deal. He and Jordan then showed up armed at the DJ’s 24/7 recording studio in Jamaica, Queens, on the night of October 30, 2002, prosecutors allege.

Inside, Washington is accused of waving a gun and ordering a person to lie on the ground, while Jordan allegedly shot Jay in the head.

Even though several other people were present in the studio at the time of the murder and more than $60,000 in rewards were offered for information afterwards, witnesses remained silent and the case was frozen for many years, frustrating police already. Jay’s family.

Prosecutors say witnesses have now identified Washington, 59, and Jordan, 40, as the attackers. They also claim that Washington has made statements corroborating his involvement to authorities and others.

Washington was first named as a possible suspect in the murder in 2007, while he was on trial for a series of armed robberies, although he maintained he was not involved. In a Playboy article published several years earlier, he was quoted as saying that he was heading to the studio the night of the murder when he heard gunshots and saw Jordan fleeing.

Jordan’s attorneys said in court documents that his father was a “lifelong friend” of Jay’s and that their families had been neighbors. They say Jordan, then 18, was at the home of his pregnant girlfriend at the time of the murder and witnesses can locate him there.

Jordan also faces weapons and cocaine possession charges in the trial in which he pleaded not guilty. While he has no criminal record as an adult, prosecutors allege he has continued to be involved in narcotics trafficking and say they have footage of him selling cocaine to an undercover agent.

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

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