Death penalty review ongoing in Jam Master Jay murder despite moratorium

Wednesday, July 7, 2021
BROOKLYN, New York City (WABC) -- Despite a moratorium on federal executions imposed earlier this month, federal prosecutors in Brooklyn said Wednesday they would still review whether two men deserve the death penalty if they're convicted of murdering Jason Mizell, better known as the rap pioneer Jam Master Jay.

"Our internal guidance on that is that our review policy has not changed, that we are still to go through our procedure," Assistant US Attorney Artie McConnell said during a brief hearing.

Attorney General Merrick Garland issued a memo July 1 that ordered a review of death penalty policy changes during the Trump administration.

The review includes pentobarbital, the drug approved for federal executions, and the prior administration's decision to allow execution by electrocution and firing squad.

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No federal executions are being scheduled during the review, but prosecutors told Judge LaShann DeArcy Hall that did not preclude them from determining whether they would seek the death penalty for Karl Jordan and Ronald Washington.

"The moratorium does not change our internal practices at this time in terms of our review of this and other capital-eligible cases," McConnell said.

Jordan and Washington were charged with the October 30, 2002, murder of Jam Master Jay in Queens while they were engaged in drug trafficking.

According to the charging documents, Washington, 56, and Jordan, 36, confronted Jam Master Jay in his studio over a drug deal that Washington was cut out of at the last minute.

Jordan allegedly fired the fatal shot at Mizell, who was 37 when he was killed.

Washington allegedly pointed a gun at others in the studio at the time.

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The judge ordered the parties to reconvene September 10 to update her on the status of the death penalty review.

The case stayed cold for nearly two decades, but earlier this year, the documentary "Set the Record Straight: The Jam Master Jay Case" revealed exclusive new details and insights into the rapper's complicated legacy.

The film features exclusive new interviews with family, friends, hip-hop pioneers, and investigators as well as never-before-seen videos and photos.

WATCH | 'Set the Record Straight: The Jam Master Jay Case'

Emmy Award-winning ABC7 Eyewitness News reporter Darla Miles examines the legacy of the hip-hop icon and the investigation into his death that went unsolved for 18 years. The documentary features interviews conducted by Miles, which reveal new and exclusive details about the case.

"Set the Record Straight: The Jam Master Jay Case" is written, directed and executive produced by Darla Miles and Rashidi Hendrix, with ABC Owned Television Stations' Jennifer Mitchell and Luke Richards and WABC-TV's Rolando Pujol also executive producing.

The documentary also features original music from Charles Mack, an Oscar nominated composer.

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