Brooklyn, New York – Jury selection began on Monday for the trial of two men accused of the 2002 fatal shooting of Jam Master Jay, a member of the iconic hip-hop group Run-DMC. The defendants, Karl Jordan Jr, 40, and Ronald Washington, 59, are facing charges of murdering the musician over a drug deal. Opening statements are expected once the jury is selected in a state courthouse in Brooklyn.
Both Jordan and Washington have pleaded not guilty and, if convicted, they could face at least 20 years in prison. However, the death penalty is not on the table for the defendants, according to the government. Jordan is also facing gun and cocaine charges, to which he has also pleaded not guilty. Prosecutors claim to have footage of him selling cocaine to an undercover agent and participating in drug trafficking.
Jam Master Jay, whose real name is Jason Mizell, was fatally shot at the age of 37 in a recording studio in his Queens neighborhood. His murder remained unsolved until authorities arrested Jordan and Washington in 2020. A third suspect, 49-year-old Jay Bryant, was also arrested in 2023 in connection to the killing but is being tried separately.
Run-DMC, widely credited with bringing hip-hop into the mainstream in the 1980s, welcomed Jay as part of the group alongside rappers Joe “Run” Simmons and Darryl “DMC” McDaniels. The group achieved fame through hit songs like “It’s Tricky” and “Walk This Way,” and was the first rap group to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2009.
Despite Run-DMC’s anti-drug stance, prosecutors allege that Jay became involved in cocaine trafficking in the mid-1990s. They claim that a drug dispute led to his fatal shooting at the hands of Washington and Jordan in his recording studio. For years, witnesses remained silent, and the trail of clues in the case went cold. Eventually, some witnesses identified Washington and Jordan as Jay’s killers, leading to their arrest in 2020.
The trial is expected to shed light on the events leading up to the tragic killing of Jam Master Jay, bringing closure to his family, friends, and fans. Throughout the proceedings, the court will carefully consider the evidence and testimonies to determine the fate of the two defendants, Karl Jordan Jr and Ronald Washington.