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Men accused of killing Run DMC star to stand trial for murder – all you need to know

Two men are due to go on trial over the killing of Run DMC star Jam Master Jay more than 20 years ago.

The DJ was shot in his recording studio in 2002 in one of New York City’s most notorious unsolved cases.

It took until 2020 for two men to be charged. A third was arrested and charged in 2023.

Here is what you need to know about the trial – and what happened back in 2002.

Who was Jam Master Jay – and what happened to him?

The musician, whose real name was Jason Mizell, was the DJ for the hip-hop group Run DMC, one of the best-known rap acts of the 1980s.

He was shot in the head inside his recording studio in Queens, New York. He was 37.

Run DMC’s hits include King Of Rock, It’s Tricky and a reworking of Aerosmith’s Walk This Way.

For years, the star’s death lingered as a cold case, with witnesses reluctant to speak up despite reward money being offered.

Who is on trial?

The two men arrested in 2020 are going on trial: Karl Jordan Jr, 40, who allegedly gunned down Mizell when he was 18, and 59-year-old Ronald Washington.

Washington had reportedly been living on a sofa at Mizell’s home in the days before his death.

He was publicly named as a possible suspect or witness as far back as 2007.

Both defendants are being held at the Metropolitan Detention Centre in Brooklyn.

The third man arrested in 2023, Jay Bryant, will be tried separately in 2025 or 2026.

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What was their alleged involvement in Jam Master Jay’s death?

At the time of the 2020 arrests, prosecutors said the alleged motive for the killing was a drug deal gone bad.

Prosecutors argued the two men entered Mizell’s studio in search of 10 kilograms of cocaine they intended to sell in Maryland, Sky’s US partner NBC News reported.

Mizell, who reportedly had the drugs at the time, told Washington he would not be involved in the deal “which precipitated the murder conspiracy”, prosecutors said.

What do we know about the trial?

Both men are charged with murder while engaged in narcotics trafficking and firearm-related murder.

The death penalty is not being sought for either defendant.

The jury has been selected and the trial is expected to last about four weeks.

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