In a filing on Friday (Feb. 4), federal prosecutors and attorneys for the two accused men — Ronald Washington and Karl Jordan, Jr. – told a New York federal judge they had agreed to set a Sept. 22 date to start the trial, which is expected to run two weeks.
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 Washington and Jordan with the killing, saying it had been payback after a failed cocaine deal.
“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.
Both men stand accused of murder while engaged in narcotics trafficking and firearm-related murder; Jordan is also charged with several other narcotics charges. The pair face potential life sentences if convicted on the charges.
According to Friday’s filing, before the trial, attorneys for Washington and Jordan will have a chance to file motions seeking to dismiss the case in April. And if the September trial is canceled due to COVID-19, a fallback date could be set for February 2023.
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.
According to the charges, 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.