Opening statements begin today in a federal trial for the murder of pioneering hip-hop star Jason Mizell, known to fans as Jam Master Jay, who was shot and killed in 2002 at age 37. The case languished for two decades amid stalled investigations and lack of evidence.
Karl Jordan Jr., 40, and Ronald Washington, 59, were eventually arrested in 2020 on allegations they shot Jay in his Queens studio for reportedly excluding them from plans to sell a shipment of cocaine. Prosecutors allege Jay was involved in drug distribution at the time, claims his family denies. Both men have pleaded not guilty to all charges.
Jay was one-third of Run-DMC, viewed as one of the most influential groups in hip-hop history. The trio is credited with transitioning hip-hop away from its disco and funk origins and toward a more aggressive style with sharp lyrics and distinct beats, while popularizing an underground fashion and cultural aesthetic. Learn how their 1986 collaboration with Aerosmith on "Walk This Way" broke down (literal) walls between rap and rock here.