Federal prosecutors in Brooklyn on Tuesday charged Jay Bryant, 49, in the death of the hip hop pioneer, whose given name was Jason Mizell. The charges against Bryant include murder while engaged in narcotics trafficking and other drug-trafficking counts; he is currently awaiting trial on a separate drug-related indictment, prosecutors stated in a court filing.
Two other men, Ronald Washington and Karl Jordan Jr., were charged back in 2020 for the death of Jay, who was 37-years-old when he was fatally shot at his recording studio in Queens, New York on October 2002.
Bryant’s lawyer César de Castro, whose arraignment had not been scheduled, told the New York Times that his client would plead not guilty.
“Securing an indictment in a secret grand jury, applying an extremely low burden of proof, is one thing,” Mr. de Castro stated. “Proving it at trial is another matter.”
In a letter filed with the court on Tuesday, prosecutors said the three men entered the studio on Merrick Boulevard in Queens, and fled after the shooting. Bryant left behind an article of clothing at the crime scene, which contained his DNA, stated the filing. Although prosecutors said he later claimed to “one associate that he was in fact the shooter,” they believe Jordan fired the fatal shot.
Run-D.M.C. was founded in 1983 by high school friends Joseph “Run” Simmons and McDaniels in Hollis, Queens. Jay, was an old basketball friend of Simmons’ and, at the age of 18, was already an established local DJ.
The Beastie Boys and Public Enemy credit the band with getting them their first breaks. “If Jam Master Jay and Run-DMC hadn’t looked out for us way back when,” said Adam “Ad Rock” Horovitz, “I don’t know where we’d be now.”
“He was a tough guy but a lovable guy,” said Chuck D. “He’d greet you with a smile.”