Jam Master Jay's Killers Found Guilty For 2002 Murder Of The Run-DMC Legend

The two men accused of killing Jam Master Jay—Karl Jordan Jr. and Ronald Washington—were reportedly found guilty on all counts for the 2002 murder of the Run-DMC legend. According to ABC News, both defendants are facing a minimum of 20 years to life in prison. The death penalty is also on the table per the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of New York.

Jam Master Jay was shot and killed inside of his Jamaica, Queens recording studio on October 30, 2002. The two people who were within feet of JMJ when he was shot in the head provided tearful testimonies during the hearing. A second shooting victim, Tony Rincon, testified that Jordan "walked directly to Jay, kind of gave him half a handshake and at the same time." That's when he said he heard a couple of shots and saw Jay fall to the ground.

It would be nearly 20 years before any arrests would be made in one of Hip-Hop's most infamous unsolved murder cases. Although investigators have long suspected Washington and Jordan of carrying out the murder, they weren't indicted until 2020. The trial, delayed by the pandemic, finally began on January 29. Prosecutors claimed that Jay was murdered by Jordan and Washington because he was allegedly going to cut them out of a lucrative cocaine distribution deal—approximately 10 kilograms of cocaine acquired from a narcotics supplier based in the Midwest.

The verdict comes as somewhat of a surprise considering there was a snag in the deliberations earlier this week. Juror No. 12 believed he was too connected to the Hollis, Queens neighborhood where Jam Master Jay was murdered. The juror said he frequented a barbershop referenced in testimony during the trial. The juror reportedly mentioned he “passed through Hollis many times” in a jury questionnaire, but he was still selected to serve on the jury. Judge LaShann DeArcy Hall excused the juror on Monday. One of the four alternate jurors replaced Juror No. 12.

Former Beastie Boys turntablist DJ Hurricane, who was close to Jam Master Jay and attended the trial on a couple of occasions, is relieved to finally have some closure, although he admitted it's still a bittersweet day.

"Nobody wins in this situation," he told AllHipHop. "My first thought when I heard the verdict was, 'I wish his mother, brother and sister were still alive to see this.' I know the death of Jason contributed to their health and demise. There are a lot of different emotions going through my head, and I'm still not understanding why they would kill Jason. He wasn’t a threat in any way."

DJ Hurricane also pointed out Jam Master Jay never sold drugs as a kid and may have just been trying to help out the wrong people.

"Jay never sold drugs growing up," he said. "Jay grew up with a big smile on his face. I was the one with the mean face. It was hard to be my friend, but it was easy to be his. From listening to the evidence, he had the connect and plugged someone else in, and the other guys were trying to get in, and he was like, ‘No.’ So they killed him. But he was never a threat to anybody. So much was taken from him for no reason at all.  He didn’t get to see his grandson, he didn't get to see his sons grow up to be men and he didn't get to see his group get inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. It's just sad."

Def Jam Recordings' first publicist and longtime journalist Bill Adler, who wrote Tougher Than Leather: The Authorized Biography of Run-DMC in 1987, added, "I'm happy that this has been resolved. It's been terribly frustrating to have had to wait 22 years for it to be resolved, but I'm glad I lived to see its resolution. As pleased as I am about it, it does not bring back Jay. Jay lived a double life when he was dealing drugs. Some folks close to him knew about it, lots of folks very close to him didn't know anything. Jay did this on the DL.

"The most horrific part of it is the guys who committed the murder were his life-long friends. Little D [Karl Jordan] was somebody who grew up right across the street from Jay in Hollis. [The media] described him as Jay's godson, but I don't think that's true. In any case, he's a kid right in the neighborhood. The idea that these guys would conspire to kill Jay despite their lengthy friendship is just unspeakable to me."

(This story was originally written for AllHipHop.)