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Home / News / Two men convicted of murdering Run-DMC star in 2002

Two men convicted of murdering Run-DMC star in 2002

A US federal jury has convicted two men of murdering the famed Run-DMC member Jam Master Jay, a case that had gone unsolved for more than two decades.

Ronald Washington and Karl Jordan Jr, the alleged shooter, were found guilty on all counts, convicted of murder while engaged in narcotics trafficking and firearms-related murder.

The defendants – Jordan in a forest green vest and pants and Washington in a light blue sweater – were stoic ahead of the verdict’s delivery but grew audibly emotional as they learned of the jury’s decision.

“Y’all just killed two innocent people,” Washington said as he and Jordan were led out of the room, while many of their family members and friends who sat through the nearly month-long trial burst into tears.

The sentencing will take place at a later date.

The proceedings were centred on the events of 30 October 2002, when pioneering rapper Jason ‘Jay’ Mizell, widely known by his DJ moniker, was fatally shot in the head in his Queens studio.

He was 37 years old and a father of three.

The scene of the October 2002 shooting in Queens, New York

Prosecutors presented a case of a drug deal gone wrong, saying that Washington and Jordan, who both knew Mizell, killed the famous artist as revenge for cutting them out of a cocaine deal.

Federal prosecutors said Jordan – the DJ’s godson – shot a 40-calibre bullet into Mizell’s head as Washington held others in the room at gunpoint.

“No matter the passage of time, be it a day, be it a week, a month, a year, or even two decades, as it was in this case, justice will be served and the harm caused by those who intentionally and senselessly end human life will be redressed,” said Breon Peace, the Eastern District of New York’s head attorney.

For years, two key witnesses – Lydia High and Uriel ‘Tony’ Rincon, the latter of whom was shot in the leg the night of the murder – had resisted cooperating with law enforcement – reticence both they and prosecutors ascribed to fear.

“It’s no mystery why it took years to indict and arrest the defendants,” said Peace.

“The witnesses in the recording studio knew the killers, and they were terrified that they would be retaliated against if they cooperated with law enforcement.

“But their strength and resolve in testifying at this trial were a triumph of right over wrong and courage over fear.”

A third person, Jay Bryant, will be tried at a later date.

Defence teams had insisted that Bryant was in fact the killer, pointing out that his hat was discovered at the crime scene.

Prosecutors allege Bryant let Mizell’s murderers into the musician’s studio but accuse him of being an accomplice to the larger conspiracy, not the shooter.

“No comment,” said one member of Washington’s defence team when queried by AFP following the verdict.

Speaking to reporters, Mizell’s cousin Carlis Thompson, who sat in the gallery throughout the proceedings, called the verdict a “long time coming” but said “justice delayed is not always justice denied”.

The trial revealed a lesser-known side of Mizell, who along with his group Run-DMC had railed against drug culture.

But prosecutors said Mizell became involved in the narcotics trade to support his lifestyle and those close to him as buzz around the group’s music – hits include It’s Tricky and Walk This Way – began to fade.

He was a quiet middleman on drug deals, and a financial fount for family and friends, in the years preceding his death, they said.

Along with LL Cool J and Public Enemy, Run-DMC were trailblazers of new-school hip-hop – mixing rock elements, aggressive boasting, and sociopolitical commentary – and its outgrowth, golden era hip-hop, which included eclectic sampling.

The seminal group were widely featured on MTV and established a new rap aesthetic incorporating street culture – a departure from the flashy, disco-inflected attire of their predecessors.

Prior to his death, Mizell was influential in New York as a cultivator of local talent, working with young rappers and co-founding a DJ academy.

Jam Master Jay’s slaying followed a spate of murders within the rap community in the 1990s, including the shootings of superstars The Notorious BIG and Tupac Shakur.

Source: AFP

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