A man accused of killing Run-D.M.C.‘s Jam Master Jay is now demanding that the murder charges be thrown out, arguing that the government violated his constitutional right to due process by waiting nearly two decades before “hauling him into court.”
In a motion filed Monday in New York federal court, Karl Jordan, Jr. argued that the long wait – he was charged in 2020 for Jay’s long-unsolved 2002 murder – means that he won’t be able to properly defend himself against the accusations. For instance, he says cell phone records that would support his alibi are no longer available.
“Karl Jordan, Jr. has due process rights that must be respected and enforced and hauling him into court and forcing him to defend himself against a murder that happened decades ago is neither fair nor just,” Jordan’s attorneys wrote.
Jam Master Jay, whose real name was Jason Mizell, was gunned down in his studio in Hollis, Queens, on Oct. 30, 2002. For nearly two decades, the case remained unsolved, but in August 2020, federal prosecutors charged Jordan and Ronald Washington with the killing, saying it had been payback after a failed cocaine deal.
But in Monday’s motion, Jordan argued that the government had evidence against Washington as early as 2008, meaning it had willingly waited years to bring charges in Jay’s killing.
“This is not a cold case where the government has just identified the perpetrator of an old crime,” his lawyers wrote. “Instead, this is an instance where the government unfairly delayed the timing of its charging decision in a reckless disregard for Mr. Jordan’s rights.”
Such delays can be found to violate due process if they cause harm to an accused person’s ability to defend themselves, since witnesses and evidence might no longer exist. But the government can argue it had valid reasons for delaying the indictment. A spokesman for the federal prosecutors working the case did not return a request for comment.
In the same motion, Jordan also asked that that his case be separated from that of Washington, arguing that statements he made about the shooting might be used against Jordan in the trial.
Run DMC, a trio consisting of Jam Master Jay, Joseph “Rev. Run” Simmons, Darryl “DMC” McDaniels, is widely credited as one of the most influential early acts in hip-hop history. The 1985 album King of Rock was hip-hop’s first platinum album, and the group’s 1986 cover of Aerosmith’s “Walk This Way” reached No. 4 on the Billboard Hot 100.
Jay’s shocking 2002 killing had long been a famous cold case. Though witnesses were in the room when the murder happened, and police generated a number of leads, no charges were filed until August 2020, when prosecutors finally unveiled the case against Washington and Jordan.
“The defendants allegedly carried out the cold-blooded murder of Jason Mizell, a brazen act that has finally caught up with them thanks to the dedicated detectives, agents and prosecutors who never gave up on this case,” prosecutors said at the time.
According to the prosecutors, Washington and Jordan broke into Jay’s studio on the night of Oct. 30, 2002. Washington allegedly initially pointed a gun at another individual in the studio; as he was doing so, Jordan allegedly fired two shots, one of which struck Jay in the head at close range, killing him almost instantly.
The motive for the killing was allegedly a drug deal gone bad. Prosecutors say Jay had arranged to purchase 10 kilograms of cocaine, which would be distributed in Maryland by Washington, Jordan and others. When Jay backed out of the deal, prosecutors say, the two decided to kill him.
A trial is set for February 2023.