(Reuters) – A second man pleaded not guilty on Tuesday to charges of murdering Run-DMC rapper Jam Master Jay in New York in 2002 in what prosecutors said was a brazen act of violence over a disputed drug deal.
Ronald Washington, 56, who is currently serving a prison sentence for robbery, was charged along with Karl Jordan Jr. on Monday for the shooting death of the musician, whose real name was Jason Mizell, in his New York recording studio.
Washington appeared for his arraignment via videoconference and entered his not guilty plea through his lawyer. Jordan pleaded not guilty at his arraignment on Monday.
Prosecutor Artie McConnell said that although Washington is not accused of pulling the trigger, he was equally responsible for Mizell’s murder and had tried to silence and intimidate witnesses.
“To plan and carry out the execution of a music icon in his own studio, in his own neighborhood, is so brazen and shows such utter disregard for the law,” McConnell said at Tuesday’s arraignment.
“This crime was not an aberration. The defendant has a long and violent criminal history, replete with crimes such as robbery, assault, narcotics trafficking, battery,” McConnell added.
Run-DMC was one of the best-known rap acts of the 1980s and the murder of one of its three founder members had been one of the music industry’s biggest unsolved crimes.
Washington has been imprisoned for 17 years and is due to remain behind bars until June 2022, the court heard.
According to the indictment, Washington and Jordan entered Mizell’s recording studio in Queens on the evening of Oct. 30, 2002. Both men were armed. Jordan fired two shots at close range at Mizell, striking the rapper once in the head.
Investigators allege the motive for the killing was a dispute over the distribution of about 10 kg (22.05 lb) of cocaine that Mizell had previously acquired.
(Reporting by Jill Serjeant; editing by Richard Pullin)