After two men were implicated in the 2002 murder of legendary rapper Jam Master Jay, federal prosecutors allege that they attempted to intimidate witnesses. On the other hand, the defendants claim that they are unable to defend themselves now that decades have passed since the slaying.

Jam Master Jay, born Jason Mizell, was shot and killed inside of his studio on Oct. 30, 2002 in Hollis, Queens.

“The government may properly delay an indictment for legitimate considerations, including the need to gather and review evidence in a complex investigation,” prosecutors wrote. “That is what occurred here, and the interval between the offense and the indictment was necessary for the government to prove the charged crimes beyond a reasonable doubt.”

Karl Jordan Jr. and Ronald Washington were charged with the murder in 2020 nearly 18 years after allegedly firing the shot that killed the Run D.M.C. member.

Per reports from the prosecution, Jordan and Washington murdered Jam Master Jay after they were upset that he backed out of a drug deal. According to court documents, he had arranged to purchase 10 kilos of cocaine to be distributed throughout Maryland for the defendants and others.

The prosecution now also believes that the two men tried to prevent people from serving as witnesses in the case through intimidation.

Previously Jordan proposed that “hauling him into court” all of these years later wouldn’t allow him the opportunity to properly defend himself. He also noted that unavailable phone records as well as the absence of the witnesses would not make for a good case.

“The government is aware of at least four separate witnesses that the defendants have endeavored to identify and silence through threats and coercion,” the prosecution told a federal judge.

A murder trial for Jam Master Jay is now set to begin in February 2023.