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Jam Master Jay trial into “brazen murder” begins: Run-DMC icon’s killing fuelled by greed and revenge, prosecutors say

Jam Master Jay’s murder trial has begun, with the court hearing that the Run-DMC legend’s killing was motivated by greed and revenge.

Over two decades since the death of the DJ, Karl Jordan Jr, 40, and Ronald Washington, 59, have gone on trial in New York accused of murdering the musician. The pair were originally arrested back in 2020. Jam Master Jay (real name Jason Mizell) was shot in the head, aged 37, at his recording studio in New York, October 2002.

On Monday (January 29), the court heard their opening statements, in which prosecutors claimed the duo conducted an “execution” that was “motivated by greed and by revenge”. They further called Mizell’s killing a “brazen murder”: “Each defendant was proud that they had taken down Jam Master Jay and got away with it.”

They alleged Mizell was involved in cocaine deals, one of which involved Jordan Jr (18 at the time) and Washington. The pair were allegedly told they would be part of a deal worth nearly $200,000 (£157,000), but were said to have been cut out.

As a result, prosecutors claimed Jordan Jr and Washington planned to murder Mizell after being “left with nothing”.

(L-R) American rapper, producer, DJ and television personality Joseph “Run” Simmons, rapper Darryl “DMC” McDaniels and musician and DJ Jason “Jam Master Jay” Mizell (1965 – 2002), of the American hip hop group Run-D.M.C, pose for a portrait in New York, New York in March 1985. (Photo by John Nordell/Getty Images)

The defense attorneys, however, told the jury that Jordan Jr and Washington did not murder Mizell, calling the prosecutor’s claims “one version of many”, and further stating the defendants “have no clue who did it”.

According to the defense attorneys, Washington was an alcoholic who relied on Mizell for money – “Why bite the hand that feeds you?”, the attorneys argued to the jury. They further stated: “Mizell was a beloved artist, but convicting the wrong person… does not solve the tragedy. It just adds another one to it.”

The trial is expected to last four weeks. Both men have pleaded not guilty to the charges. If convicted, they could face at least 20 years behind bars.

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