Jason Mizell was murdered in Hollis, Queens on October 30, 2002 -- shot at point-blank range with a .40-caliber handgun.
"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," stated Acting United States Attorney DuCharme. "The charges announced today begin to provide a measure of justice to the family and friends of the victim, and make clear that the rule of law will be upheld, whether that takes days, months or decades."
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Mizell, known professionally as Jam Master Jay, was a member of 1980s hip-hop sensation Run-DMC, behind hits such as "It's Tricky" and the Aerosmith remake collaboration "Walk This Way."
The 37-year-old Jay was shot once in the head by a masked assailant, police said at the time. He left behind a wife and three children.
NYPD Chief of Detectives Rodney Harrison, a Queens native and self-described Run-DMC fan, said "this arrest was very important to me."
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Karl Jordan and Ronald Washington, both of Queens, have been charged with the murder of Jam Master Jay while engaged in cocaine trafficking, according to an indictment unsealed in the Eastern District of New York that also charged the two with drug offenses.
The murder of Jam Master Jay stemmed from a dispute over drug trafficking, according to the indictment.
According to investigators, Mizell sought to exclude Washington from a large multi-state drug deal. In retaliation, Washington and Jordan conspired to murder, and ultimately executed Mizell.
As alleged in court filings, on October 30, 2002, Mizell was present at his recording studio, 24/7 Studio, located on Merrick Boulevard in Jamaica, Queens. Washington and Jordan, armed with firearms, entered the studio at approximately 7:30 p.m.
Washington then allegedly pointed his firearm at an individual located inside the studio and demanded that the person lie on the floor. Jordan was said to have approached Mizell and pointed his firearm at him, firing two shots at close range, striking the victim once in the head and killing him. The second shot struck another individual in the leg.
"Mr. Jordan and Mr. Washington walked into a music studio in Queens, where Mr. Mizell and others were working essentially hanging out, and they walked in and they murdered them in cold blood," DuCharme said.
The investigation revealed that the motive for the killing resulted from Mizell's previous acquisition of approximately 10 kilograms of cocaine from a narcotics supplier in the Midwest. The cocaine was allegedly intended to be distributed in Maryland by Washington, Jordan and other co-conspirators.
Mizell had recently informed Washington that the defendant would not be involved in distributing the narcotics in Maryland, which precipitated the murder conspiracy.
The ATF New York Field Division said they never believed this case was unsolvable.
"Working tirelessly alongside the NYPD Cold Case Squad, we were determined to bring justice for the Mizell family and see these killers held accountable," ATF Acting Special Agent-in-Charge McCormick said. "For nearly eighteen years, one of these alleged perpetrators walked freely, thinking he'd gotten away with murder. But today, thanks to the unwavering efforts of the investigators and prosecutors, two individuals will answer for their crimes."
NYPD Commissioner Dermot Shea also commented on the indictment.
"The gunshots that rang out in a recording studio in Queens nearly 18 years ago, taking this pioneering rap artist's life, have been answered," Shea said. "Today's indictment shows that no amount of time passed can erase the commitment of our NYPD detectives, federal law enforcement partners and prosecutors in the US Attorney's Office for the Eastern District, to the pursuit of justice."
The 36-year-old Jordan was taken into custody on Sunday. Washington, 56, was already in prison on a prior robbery case.
Jordan was arraigned Monday, pleading not guilty and was ordered held pending trial.
In addition to the murder, Jordan is also charged with one count of conspiracy to distribute cocaine and seven counts of cocaine distribution.
Federal prosecutors said this case carries the possibility of the death penalty. The return date is September 17.
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