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No bail for suspect behind murder of Run-DMC star

Covid concerns, the lack of criminal history, and a $1 million commitment by family were not enough to convince a federal judge to free a man accused of killing Run-DMC's Jam Master Jay.

BROOKLYN (CN) — One of the men charged with killing hip-hop star Jam Master Jay two decades ago lost a bid to be released ahead of his federal murder and drug trafficking trial. 

Prosecutors say it was Karl Jordan Jr., 38, who fired the shot that ended the life of Jason “Jay" Mizell, a member of the 1980s hip-hop group Run-DMC, at Mizell’s Queens recording studio on October 30, 2002. 

It would become one of New York City’s most infamous unsolved murders, with Mizell leaving behind a wife and three children. 

Since the arrest and arraignment of Jordan and co-defendant Ronald Washington in August 2020, Jordan has been detained at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn. Washington was already incarcerated for several robberies that occurred while he was on the run from the police after the shooting. 

If convicted, Jordan faces a mandatory minimum of 25 years in prison. 

U.S. District Judge LaShann DeArcy Hall eviscerated the defense arguments against Jordan's continued detention on Thursday, railing in particular against the notion that the case by prosecutors must be flimsy since they are not opting to seek the death penalty. 

Hall said the theory suggests that the government would use capital punishment as a way to telegraph the seriousness of any case. 

“I cannot reject this argument in stronger terms,” Hall said Thursday. “This logic is not only flawed, it is dangerous.” 

Eight of Jordan’s family members were in court on Thursday, sitting in the gallery behind the defense table where Jordan was seated. As Jordan exited the courtroom, they exchanged “I love yous.” 

Family ties were key to Jordan’s proposed $1 million bond, which would have been secured by 16 people, including family, his attorneys said. He also would have agreed to electronic monitoring and home detention with his girlfriend and two of his daughters. 

Further, Jordan’s attorneys said he was at risk for Covid-19 because he lives with one kidney, after donating the other to his mom. 

While Hall ultimately found no proof of an increased health risk, she described the donation as showing “a plain and obvious devotion to his mother.” 

“You, like many people, are made of many parts and many things,” Hall said, looking directly at Jordan. “I find that what was represented in that regard is persuasive, and it is genuine.” 

Jordan intends to offer an alibi through his girlfriend at the time, and her mother, who is a former corrections officer and current school teacher. Jordan’s current girlfriend, his attorneys say, is also a deputy warden for the Department of Corrections.

Details on that defense are scant so far, and Hall noted that neither of the alibi witnesses were called to Jordan’s bond hearing, making it impossible for her to assess their credibility.  

Assistant U.S. Attorney Artie McConnell said earlier this week that the witness’s close personal ties cut down the strength of their forthcoming testimony. “We do not credit the alibi witnesses,” McConnell said at a separate hearing on Monday in which both parties laid out their cases before Hall reconvened them Thursday to read her ruling. 

Jordan’s attorney Michael Hueston argued against the idea that his client was a danger or flight risk, since he appeared in court for past arrests, and previous charges were resolved without creating an adult criminal record. 

Two past charges against Jordan were dismissed, Hueston said Monday, and the others were not considered violent crimes. For instance, after Jordan was accused of firing a gun in the air, he pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct. 

Other records of behavior made an impact on Hall, however, including that Jordan was found with a contraband cellphone in August 2021while incarcerated. 

Mizell’s murder allegedly stemmed from a dispute over a cocaine deal. Jordan’s indictment, along with the murder and firearm charges related to the killing, includes seven cocaine distribution counts and one count of conspiracy to distribute and possess cocaine. 

Prosecutors say Jordan was recorded selling narcotics to a law enforcement officer. Hueston on Monday said there were no receipts or evidence of that happening, then clarified that he meant the sting operation specifically, and not other alleged sales. 

“I was about to make a Whitney Houston joke,” Hall replied, in a reference to the iconic singer being asked about a reported $730,000 drug habit in a 2002 interview with Diane Sawyer. (“I want to see the receipts,” Houston famously replied.) 

Jordan himself has rapped under the name “Yadi” or “Young Yadi,” in a group called “Rich Fly Gees,” prosecutors wrote in their bond opposition letter. Two of his songs were purchased by rap groups Dipset and G-Unit, Jordan’s attorney said. 

The government’s bond letter cited violent rap lyrics Jordan has performed as part of the reason he should be kept in jail. 

In one song, “Aim for the Head,” Jordan raps, “we aim for the head, no body shots, and we stick around just to see the body drop.” In the music video for a separate track, “Silver Spoon,” Jordan raps in front of a mural commemorating Mizell. 

Hall on Monday quickly made clear that the songs would not be part of her bond consideration. The genre tends to promote violence, and both artists themselves and record executives profit from it, the judge noted. 

“We can take the rap music out of the mix,” Hall said. “This is never going to be a courtroom where I penalize any individual for [engaging in that art form].”

Jordan’s family members and defense attorneys declined to comment on Thursday. 

Trial is set for February 2023.

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