UNITED STATES NEWS

Defense requests a mistrial in Jam Master Jay murder case; judge says no but blasts prosecutors

Feb 8, 2024, 12:45 PM

FILE -Run-D.M.C.'s Jason Mizell, Jam-Master Jay, poses with teenagers gathered at New York's Madiso...

FILE -Run-D.M.C.'s Jason Mizell, Jam-Master Jay, poses with teenagers gathered at New York's Madison Square Garden, Oct. 7, 1986, in New York City. Karl Jordan Jr. and Ronald Washington have pleaded not guilty to the 2002 slaying of Mizell. (AP Photo/G. Paul Burnett, File)
Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS

(AP Photo/G. Paul Burnett, File)

NEW YORK (AP) — Defense lawyers sought a mistrial Thursday in the case against two men charged with the murder of Jam Master Jay, saying prosecutors improperly guided a witness to testify that one defendant confessed to her decades ago that he killed the Run-DMC star and told her “people get what they deserve.”

U.S. District Judge LaShann DeArcy Hall ultimately denied the mistrial, partly because the witness had made similar prior statements that could have been broached to jurors anyway. But the judge angrily told prosecutors that their questions to the witness had crossed the line.

“There was no need whatsoever” for the queries, she said, raising her voice, while jurors were out of the room.

The heated issue threatened for roughly an hour to upend the long-awaited trial in one of the most infamous acts of violence in hip-hop history. Jam Master Jay, born Jason Mizell, was shot dead in his recording studio on Oct. 30, 2002.

A childhood friend, Ronald Washington, and Karl Jordan Jr., the DJ’s godson, are on trial. They have pleaded not guilty.

Washington’s former girlfriend Daynia McDonald testified Thursday that he called her to tell her Mizell was dead, hours after Washington had brought her to the studio to meet his celebrity friend. Stunned, she asked Washington how he knew of the DJ’s death.

“He said, ‘Because I was there,’ ” she testified.

In a subsequent conversation, she told jurors, she asked Washington whether he had something to do with the killing, “and he basically said yes.”

Then Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark Misorek asked the questions that sparked the legal fireworks: “Did he say he killed Jam Master Jay?” and “Did he say that people get what they deserve?”

McDonald said yes to both.

After jurors left the room, the judge remonstrated with prosecutors over the questions. One of Washington’s lawyers, Susan Kellman, requested a mistrial, saying that prosecutors had planted “a seed of prejudice” that couldn’t be uprooted.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Artie McConnell said the government was only trying to keep McDonald’s answers squarely on Mizell’s killing and to ensure she didn’t venture into other, off-limits topics. Prosecutors had “the best of intentions,” he said.

“Your logic doesn’t follow, for me,” said the judge.

After lengthy discussion, DeArcy Hall decided the trial could continue, with a caveat: She told jurors to disregard the two questions and their answers.

Misorek was cleared to ask whether Washington “said anything else about Jam Master Jay’s murder.”

“Um, he just said that he killed him,” McDonald said, and that answer was allowed to stand.

Prosecutors and an eyewitness say Jordan shot the rap star while Washington stood at the door and brandished a gun. According to the government, the attack was spurred by bad blood over a planned drug deal.

Run-DMC was known for its anti-drug stance. But prosecutors and another witness have said that Mizell turned to the cocaine trade for money as the groundbreaking 1980s rap group’s career leveled off.

Attorneys for Jordan, 40, have said he was at his then-girlfriend’s home when Mizell was shot. Lawyers for Washington, 59, have said the government is bringing a slapped-together case against a man who was relying on Jay financially, not gunning for him.

United States News

Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump hugs and kisses the American flag a...

Associated Press

Trump calls himself a ‘proud political dissident’ in CPAC speech

In a CPAC speech, Trump painted an apocalyptic vision of the future if President Joe Biden wins again as the two prepare for a rematch.

4 hours ago

Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump gestures to the audience after spea...

Associated Press

Donald Trump wins South Carolina GOP primary, beating Nikki Haley in her home state

Trump has now swept every contest that counted for Republican delegates, with wins already in Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada.

4 hours ago

Associated Press

Why AP called South Carolina for Trump: Race call explained

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Associated Press declared Donald Trump the winner of the South Carolina primary as soon as polls closed on Saturday. The race call was based on a comprehensive survey of South Carolina Republican primary voters that showed him defeating Nikki Haley by wide margins in her home state. Declaring a winner as […]

5 hours ago

Associated Press

Former NFL player Richard Sherman arrested on suspicion of DUI, authorities in Washington state say

SEATTLE (AP) — Former NFL player Richard Sherman was arrested early Saturday on suspicion of driving under the influence, according to the Washington State Patrol. No other details about the arrest were immediately available, said Trooper Rick Johnson, a patrol spokesperson. A spokesperson for the King County Prosecutor’s Office said nothing had been sent to […]

5 hours ago

Associated Press

Lithium ion battery caused fatal fire in New York City apartment building, officials say

NEW YORK (AP) — A lithium ion battery sparked a fire that killed one person and injured 17 others at a New York City apartment building, fire officials said Saturday. Friday’s two-alarm fire began just after 2 p.m. on the third floor of a six-story building in Harlem. New York Police Department video shows firefighters […]

5 hours ago

Associated Press

Federal prosecutors accuse a New Mexico woman of fraud in oil and gas royalty case

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — A New Mexico businesswoman is accused of defrauding the U.S. government and two Native American tribes of taxes and royalties due to them for oil and gas that her companies extracted from leased federal and tribal lands. Federal prosecutors announced this week that Teresa McCown recently was indicted by a grand […]

6 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...

Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Day & Night is looking for the oldest AC in the Valley

Does your air conditioner make weird noises or a burning smell when it starts? If so, you may be due for an AC unit replacement.

...

Fiesta Bowl Foundation

The 51st annual Vrbo Fiesta Bowl Parade is excitingly upon us

The 51st annual Vrbo Fiesta Bowl Parade presented by Lerner & Rowe is upon us! The attraction honors Arizona and the history of the game.

...

Collins Comfort Masters

Avoid a potential emergency and get your home’s heating and furnace safety checked

With the weather getting colder throughout the Valley, the best time to make sure your heating is all up to date is now. 

Defense requests a mistrial in Jam Master Jay murder case; judge says no but blasts prosecutors