2 men convicted of killing Jam Master Jay nearly 22 years after Run-DMC star's death

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Karl Jordan Jr. and Ronald Washington were found guilty of the October 2002 murder of the hip-hop star.

Nearly 22 years after the fatal shooting of Run-DMC's Jam Master Jay in his Queens recording studio, two men have finally been convicted of his murder. 

On Tuesday, a Brooklyn federal jury found Karl Jordan Jr., 40, and Ronald Washington, 59, guilty of killing the hip-hop legend, born Jason William Mizell, over a drug deal dispute on Oct. 30, 2002, the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York announced in a press release. Jordan, who is Mizell's godson, and Washington will face “a minimum of 20 years’ imprisonment and a maximum term of life imprisonment.”

“More than two decades after they killed Jason Mizell in his recording studio, Jordan and Washington have finally been held accountable for their cold-blooded crime driven by greed and revenge,” United States Attorney Breon Peace said in a statement. “That the victim, professionally known as Jam Master Jay, was a hip hop icon and Run-DMC’s music was born in Hollis, Queens, in this very district, and beloved by so many, adds to the tragedy of a life senselessly cut short. I thank the jurors for their service, and I commend our prosecutors, the NYPD detectives, both active and retired, and the Special Agents and investigators from the ATF and my office, for their relentless pursuit of justice for the victim, his family, and the community.”

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

According to the release, which cited information that was proven at trial, Jay was “involved in arranging for the sale of kilogram-quantities of cocaine in the Eastern District of New York and elsewhere” outside of his music career. It noted that in August 2002, he obtained 10 kilograms of cocaine that was “intended to be distributed in Maryland by Washington, Jordan and other co-conspirators,” but that a “dispute between Washington and one of the co-conspirators in Baltimore resulted in the musician cutting Washington and Jordan out of the Maryland drug deal worth almost $200,000.”

The release continued, “Following this betrayal, Washington and Jordan continued in the larger narcotics conspiracy until they could ultimately cut out Jason Mizell by murdering him on October 30, 2002.”

Washington and Jordan had long been suspected by police to have been involved in Jay's death before their arrests in 2020. On the night of the murder, the release noted that a co-conspirator opened a locked fire escape door that allowed Washington and Jordan to enter the recording studio. Once inside, Jordan fired two shots at the hip-hop star, one of which struck him in the head and killed him instantly. A nearby friend of the DJ's was also shot in the leg during the altercation.

In the years since, the release said that Jordan and Washington had both "variously made admissions to associates implicating themselves in the fatal shooting" and "bragging about being the shooter." It added, "Additionally at trial, Jordan was identified as the shooter by the individual who was shot in the leg, and Mizell’s business manager identified Washington as being present in the recording studio during the murder and pointing a firearm at her and ordering her to get down on the floor."

The co-conspirator who helped Jordan and Washington enter the building is set to be tried for their alleged involvement in 2026, per the release. In addition to murder, Jordan is also "charged with conspiracy to distribute cocaine and cocaine distribution and will be tried on those counts at a later date."

Run-DMC was founded by Jay, Joseph "Run" Simmons, and Darryl "D.M.C." McDaniels in the 1980s. The group's 1986 album, titled Raising Hell, was the first hip-hop album ever to go platinum and helped launch the genre into the mainstream. Their legendary hits — including "It's Tricky," "My Adidas," "Rock Box," and their 1986 collaboration with Aerosmith "Walk This Way" — continue to inspire fans old and new to this day.

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