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Jam Master Jay murder jury views graphic crime scene photos in death of Run-DMC DJ

Jam Master Jay murder jury views graphic crime scene photos in death of Run-DMC DJ
Jason Mizell aka Jam Master Jay poses for a portrait circa May, 1999 in Los Angeles, California.
Jason Mizell aka Jam Master Jay poses for a portrait circa May, 1999 in Los Angeles, California.Bob Berg/Getty Images
  • The federal trial of two men charged in the killing of Run-DMC DJ Jam Master Jay got underway Monday.

  • Jurors were shown grisly photos from the 2002 New York City crime scene.

  • The hip-hop legend, given name Jason Mizell, was shot dead in his Queens recording studio.

People were screaming, bleeding, sobbing. A video game was still running on a TV set, recessed into the wall.

And slouched at the foot of a dark green couch was 37-year-old Jason William Mizell — hip-hop legend Jam Master Jay — dead in a pool of his own blood on the floor of his Queens recording studio.

"He died instantly," prosecutor Miranda Gonzalez told jurors, shot in the head at such close range, his hair was singed.

This was the scene of havoc and tragedy that a federal jury was plunged into in New York on Monday, as testimony began in the 2002 cold-case murder of the Run-DMC star.

An NYPD diagram of the Queens, New York studio where Jam Master Jay was shot dead in 2002.
An NYPD diagram of the Queens, New York studio where Jam Master Jay was shot dead in 2002.United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York/BI

Two men, Karl "Little D" Jordan Jr. and Ronald "Tinard" Washington, are on trial in Brooklyn's Eastern District of New York, accused of shooting Mizell in the head, execution style, more than 20 years ago in a dispute over 22 pounds of cocaine.

The trial's first witness was one of the first police officers at the scene, Detective James Lusk. He told jurors he responded to the shooting minutes after it happened, and ran up the stairway to Mizell's second-floor recording studio to the sound of cries and screams.

The stairs leading to Jam Master Jay's second floor recording studio in the Jamaica neighborhood of Queens, New York.
The stairs leading to Jam Master Jay's second floor recording studio in the Jamaica neighborhood of Queens, New York.United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York/BI

It was early evening, October 30, 2002, and behind the studio's glass door, in a cluttered, narrow room lined with couches, it was bloody bedlam.

"I saw a male lying, head toward the window," against a green couch, Lusk testified of Mizell.

Another man "was kind of scrunched up on top of that couch," Lusk said of a second victim. The man, Tony Rincon, had been shot in the leg and was screaming for help.

Within earshot, maybe in the hallway, a woman was "crying hysterically," Lusk testified.

A television set, which Lusk described as "old school," not a flat screen, "was showing video games."

Mizell had been playing video games when Jordan and Washington, both armed, were buzzed inside, prosecutors allege.

The shooting happened so fast, Gonzalez said in openings, that Mizell had no time to reach for the .380-caliber pistol right beside him, on the armrest of the green couch.

Prosecutors say this handgun was on the armrest of the couch Jam Master Jay was sitting on when two gunmen rushed the studio. The ambush happened so quickly, the rapper had no time to reach for it.
Prosecutors say this handgun was on the armrest of the couch Jam Master Jay was sitting on when two gunmen rushed the studio. The ambush happened so quickly, the rapper had no time to reach for it.United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York/BI

They "killed a world-famous musician," Gonzalez said. Then, "as quickly as they came, they fled," using the studio's fire escape, she told jurors.

The two gunmen quickly fled through the studio's fire escape.
The two gunmen quickly fled down the studio's fire escape.United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York/BI

"Did you have the opportunity to observe Mr. Mizell's body before and during when EMS arrived?" the detective was asked by prosecutor Artie McConnell.

"Yes I did," answered the detective.

Mizell "had a tremendous amount of blood already pooled on the floor," the detective told jurors. "He was unresponsive" to being shaken.

"I did see blood to the back of the head and assumed that was the injury," he added, as the jury viewed a photo of Mizell's slumped body, displayed for them on screens.

One of two handguns police said was used in the Jam Master Jay shooting, recovered from the parking lot outside the rapper's recording studio.
One of two handguns police said was used in the Jam Master Jay shooting, recovered from the parking lot outside the rapper's recording studio.United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York/BI

Mizell's killing remained a cold case until Jordan and Washington were charged in 2020. Both have pleaded not guilty.

Another man, Jay Bryant, has also been charged in the DJ's murder and has pleaded not guilty. He will be tried separately at a later date.

"The defendants allegedly carried out the cold-blooded murder of Jason Mizell," the then-acting US Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, Seth D. DuCharme said when Jordan and Washington were charged.

DuCharme called it "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."

Federal prosecutors allege that Mizell was in his studio in Jamaica, Queens, on October 30, 2002, when Washington and Jordan, armed with firearms, burst into the studio.

The prosecutors say that Washington pointed his gun at a person inside the studio and demanded that they lie on the floor, while Jordan approached Mizell and fired two shots at close range, with one hitting Mizell in the head, killing him.

The second bullet struck Rincon in the leg, according to prosecutors.

Both bullets passed through their victims, according to Lutz's testimony.

One bullet pierced a radiator cover on a far wall. That deformed slug was recovered from inside the cover, the detective told jurors.

One of two bullet holes caused in the 2002 shooting murder of Jam Master Jay.
One of two bullet holes caused in the 2002 shooting murder of Jam Master Jay.United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York/BI

The other bullet pierced a wall, causing a second hole. That bullet appears to have fallen into the wall and was not recovered, he said.

Gonzalez promised jurors on Monday that prosecutors would prove that Jordan boasted after the shooting, "I would kill him again," and that Washington told his girlfriend he was the second shooter and was proud he'd got away with it.

A lawyer for Jordan, John Diaz, meanwhile predicted in opening statements that the government will fail to prove his client was there at the murder or involved in narcotics dealing.

"This case will be about 10 seconds, 21 years ago," a lawyer for Washington, Ezra Spilke, said in openings, highlighting the difficulty in proving a murder that happened so quickly and so long ago.

"Their version is one version of many," he said of the government's case.

The fire escape Jam Master Jay's shooters used to flee his Queens, New York, recording studio in 2002.
The fire escape Jam Master Jay's shooters used to flee his Queens, New York, recording studio in 2002.United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York/BI

Prosecutors have alleged that Mizell was murdered out of anger stemming from Mizell cutting Washington out of a drug deal.

"It was an ambush, an execution, motivated by greed and revenge," Gonzalez told jurors.

The investigation, according to prosecutors, revealed Mizell had acquired about 20 pounds of cocaine from a narcotics supplier in the Midwest and that the plan was for Washington, Jordan and other co-conspirators to distribute the drugs in Maryland.

Prosecutors allege that before Mizell's death, Mizell told Washington that Washington would not be involved in the drug distribution in Maryland, which led the suspects to plot to kill Mizell.

Mizell's family has maintained that the DJ was not involved with drugs, according to the Associated Press.

Washington and Jordan face at least 20 years behind bars if convicted in the case.

This story was updated to include newly-available photographs of crime-scene evidence.

Read the original article on Business Insider