Delayed charges against Jam Master Jay’s alleged killers due to witness intimidation, prosecutors say

Suspects Karl Jordan Jr. and Ronald Washington were charged with the 2002 murder of the hip hop pioneer in August 2020.

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It took almost twenty years for suspects Karl Jordan, Jr. and Ronald Washington to be charged for the 2002 murder of Jam Master Jay. Now they say that the time it took to charge them is hindering their ability to mount a defense.

Now federal prosecutors are responding to the criticism, saying that the delay happened in part because the suspects used intimidation tactics on potential witnesses.

Last month, Jordan, Jr. filed a motion that he and Washington were unable to adequately defend themselves due to the long time it took for them to be charged, according to Billboard.

Jordan said that because of the delay, “hauling him into court” after all these years makes his defense difficult and that evidence that could prove his innocence, such as cell phone records supporting his alibi, is no longer available.

2002 MTV Video Music Awards - Show Run DMC
Run DMC and Jam Master Jay on stage at the 2002 MTV Video Music Awards at Radio City Music Hall in New York City, Aug. 29, 2002. Photo by Scott Gries/ImageDirect.

Prosecutors countered Jordan’s motion, saying accusations about his defense “ring particularly hollow,” since it was Jordan’s alleged attempt to “intimidate and silence potential witnesses” that contributed to the delay in the first place.

“The government is aware of at least four separate witnesses that the defendants have endeavored to identify and silence through threats and coercion,” government attorneys told a federal judge.

Jam Master Jay, a member of the legendary rap trio Run DMC, was fatally shot in a recording studio in Queens, New York, on Oct. 30, 2002. Prosecutors allege that Jordan and Washington confronted Jay, real name Jason Mizell, and other studio occupants with guns after Mizell backed out of a previously made cocaine distribution arrangement. Mizell was allegedly shot in the head by Jordan.

Jam Master Jay (Getty Images)

Prosecutors said the delay was not an intentional method of gaining an advantage in the case.

“The government may properly delay an indictment for legitimate considerations, including the need to gather and review evidence in a complex investigation,” prosecutors continued. “That is what occurred here, and the interval between the offense and the indictment was necessary for the government to prove the charged crimes beyond a reasonable doubt.”

Jordan and Washington’s trial is scheduled for Feb. 23.

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