Downtown Brooklyn

Brooklyn judge rules Jam Master Jay murder suspect gets solo trial

October 16, 2023 Rob Abruzzese
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Brooklyn Federal Court Judge LaShann DeArcy Hall ruled that Jay Bryant, one of the three men charged with the 2002 murder of hip-hop icon Jam Master Jay, will stand trial separately from the other two accused, Ronald “Tinard” Washington and Karl Jordan Jr., in a decision issued Friday.

The decision was prompted by the likelihood of conflicting accounts among the accused. Bryant, 49, had requested the trial severance, stating that each suspect intends to deflect guilt onto the others, thereby complicating jury deliberations.

Federal prosecutors have previously stated that Bryant admitted to being the shooter and was seen entering the victim’s studio in Jamaica, Queens. DNA evidence also links Bryant to the crime scene. However, the prosecution maintains that Bryant was not the triggerman and will present evidence suggesting Jordan fired the fatal shots.

In the defense’s submission to the court, Bryant’s lawyer, Cesar de Castro, said that the jury would face “three irreconcilable theories” of the case: one portraying Bryant as innocent, another claiming he acted alone as the shooter, and a third in which he was involved but did not fire the gun.

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Judge DeArcy Hall agreed with the defense’s concerns. Her ruling emphasized that it is evident Jordan plans to call a third-party witness who would implicate Bryant, further complicating the trial if all three defendants were tried together. 

The prosecution alleges that the motive behind the killing was retaliation by Washington and Jordan, who felt snubbed by Jam Master Jay — whose real name is Jason Mizell — over a 10-kilo cocaine deal. Washington and Jordan await their trial scheduled for January in Brooklyn Federal Court.


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