Federal prosecutors will not seek the death penalty for two men charged with murdering Jam Master Jay, New York Daily News and other news outlets report. On Saturday (Nov. 6), U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland directed the Brooklyn U.S. Attorney’s Office not to seek capital punishment for murder suspects Ronald Washington and Karl Jordan Jr.
Prosecutors believe the two defendants fatally shot the Run-D.M.C. DJ at his Jamaica, Queens recording studio on Oct. 30, 2002. According to the charging documents; Jay, Washington and Jordan were planning on selling cocaine in Maryland together, but Jay cut Washington out of the deal at the last minute.
This led Washington and Jordan to target the hip hop pioneer at his recording studio, prosecutors say. Jordan is accused of firing the shot that killed Jay, while Washington allegedly pointed his gun at witnesses inside the studio.
The case sat cold for almost two decades, but was reopened last year with the arrests of both Washington and Jordan. According to ABC 7, the 2020 documentary Set the Record Straight: The Jam Master Jay Case revealed new details about the DJ’s life and legacy that helped lead to the arrests.
The decision not to pursue the death penalty in Washington and Jordan’s case arrives after a moratorium on federal executions imposed earlier this year. Back in September, federal prosecutors in Brooklyn said they would review the charges against Washington and Jordan to determine whether or not they would pursue capital punishment.
“Our internal guidance on that is that our review policy has not changed; that we are still to go through our procedure,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Artie McConnell said at the time.
Over the summer, Garland also ordered a review of death penalty policy changes that happened under Donald Trump’s administration.
A date for Washington and Jordan’s trial has not been set yet. Last year, both men were charged with murder while engaged in narcotics trafficking and firearm-related murder. Earlier this year, Jordan was also charged with conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute controlled substances and use of firearms in connection with a drug-trafficking crime.