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Jam Master Jay’s Alleged Killers Must Face Trial, Judge Says

More than two decades after Jay's death, his accused killers will face the music at a February trial.

A federal judge has rejected arguments that prosecutors waited too long to charge two men accused of murdering Run-DMC‘s Jam Master Jay, clearing the way for a trial 20 years after the rap icon’s slaying.

Karl Jordan, Jr. and Ronald Washington argued that the long delay – they were charged in 2020 for Jay’s long-unsolved 2002 murder – meant they wouldn’t be able to properly defend themselves. For instance, Jordan said cell phone records that would support his alibi were no longer available.

But on Monday, Judge LaShann DeArcy Hall ruled those arguments too “speculative” and vague to win the dismissal of the case.

“Conspicuously absent from Jordan’s argument is any factual support for his claim,” the judge wrote. “In the absence of any factual support, the court has no idea what Jordan believes the phone records contain, how they could conceivably contradict the Government’s evidence, and how those contradictions could conceivably demonstrate that Jordan did not commit the crime.”

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Washington argued that so much time had elapsed that key witnesses would not remember details, but the judge rejected that argument too. Though such arguments will “undoubtedly give the jury much to consider” at trial, the judge ruled they were not enough to avoid a trial altogether.

“That memories will dim, witnesses become inaccessible, and evidence be lost are not in themselves enough to demonstrate that defendants cannot receive a fair trial,” DeArcy Hall wrote. “While Washington goes on at length regarding errors in memory, he ignores that those are also problems for the Government.”

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.

“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.

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But earlier this year, Jordan and Washington argued the government had violated their due process rights by waiting so long before “hauling him into court.” They said it had not been “a cold case” where such a delay was reasonable, citing the fact that prosecutors suspected Washington as early as 2008.

“This is an instance where the government unfairly delayed the timing of its charging decision in a reckless disregard for Mr. Jordan’s rights,” his lawyers wrote.

In Monday’s ruling DeArcy Hall also rejected those arguments, calling them similarly “speculative.” She also refused a request to try the two men separately, saying they had failed to prove that their arguments would be “antagonistic” to each other.

But she did rule that the two men should face a separate trial over additional charges related to drug possession and trafficking. She said Jay’s murder and the alleged drug crimes were not part of “a common plan or scheme.”

Attorneys for both defendants did not immediately return requests for comment on Monday.