2 guilty in slaying of Jam Master Jay

FILE -Run-D.M.C.'s Jason Mizell, Jam-Master Jay, poses with teenagers gathered at New York's Madison Square Garden, Oct. 7, 1986, in New York.  Two men were convicted of murder Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2024 in the death of Run-DMC star Jam Master Jay, a brazen 2002 shooting in the rap legend's studio. An anonymous Brooklyn federal jury delivered the verdict in the trial of Karl Jordan Jr. and Ronald Washington.(AP Photo/G. Paul Burnett, File)
FILE -Run-D.M.C.'s Jason Mizell, Jam-Master Jay, poses with teenagers gathered at New York's Madison Square Garden, Oct. 7, 1986, in New York. Two men were convicted of murder Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2024 in the death of Run-DMC star Jam Master Jay, a brazen 2002 shooting in the rap legend's studio. An anonymous Brooklyn federal jury delivered the verdict in the trial of Karl Jordan Jr. and Ronald Washington.(AP Photo/G. Paul Burnett, File)

NEW YORK -- Two men were convicted of murder Tuesday in the death of Run-DMC star Jam Master Jay, a brazen 2002 shooting in the rap legend's studio.

An anonymous Brooklyn federal jury found Karl Jordan Jr. and Ronald Washington guilty of killing the pioneering DJ over what prosecutors characterized as revenge for a failed drug deal.

Jam Master Jay, born Jason Mizell, worked the turntables in Run-DMC as it helped hip-hop break into the pop music mainstream in the 1980s with such hits as "It's Tricky" and a fresh take on Aerosmith's "Walk This Way."

Like the slayings of rap icons Tupac Shakur and the Notorious B.I.G. in the late 1990s, the Oct. 30, 2002, shooting remained unsolved for years. Authorities were deluged with tips, rumors and theories but struggled to get witnesses to open up.

"It's no mystery why it took years to indict and arrest the defendants," Breon Peace, the top federal prosecutor in Brooklyn, told reporters after the verdict. "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 and identified the ruthless executioners of Mr. Mizell. But their strength and resolve in testifying at this trial were a triumph of right over wrong and courage over fear."

Jordan, 40, was the famous DJ's godson. Washington, 59, was an old friend who was bunking at the home of the DJ's sister. Both men were arrested in 2020 and pled not guilty.

"Y'all just killed two innocent people," Washington yelled at the jury following the guilty verdict.

Jordan's supporters also erupted at the verdict, cursing the jury. "I love y'all," Jordan said to the group who sat in the courtroom pews before they were escorted out by U.S. Marshalls after more yelling.

Lawyers for both men said they've made a formal request for the judge to set aside the jury's guilty verdict and acquit them.

'We're optimistic," one of Washington's lawyers, Susan Kellman, told reporters. "My client did not do this. And the jury heard testimony about the person who did."

The men's names, or at least their nicknames, have been floated for decades in connection to the case. Authorities publicly named Washington as a suspect in 2007. He, meanwhile, told Playboy magazine in 2003 he'd been outside the studio, heard the shots and saw "Little D" -- one of Jordan's monikers -- racing out of the building.

Mizell had been part of Run-DMC's anti-drug message, delivered through a public service announcement and such lyrics as "we are not thugs / we don't use drugs." But according to prosecutors and trial testimony, he racked up debts after the group's heyday and moonlighted as a cocaine middleman to cover his bills and habitual generosity to friends.

Prosecution witnesses testified that in Mizell's final months, he had a plan to acquire 10 kilograms of cocaine and sell it through Jordan, Washington and a Baltimore-based dealer. But the Baltimore connection refused to work with Washington, according to testimony.

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