A third person has been charged with the murder of Run-DMC DJ Jam Master Jay, more than two decades after he was found fatally shot in his New York studio and nearly three years after two men were charged with the crime , officials said Tuesday.
Jay Bryant, 49, has been charged with the murder of Jam Master Jay, real name Jason Mizell, while engaged in drug trafficking, according to a superseding indictment filed in federal court in the Eastern District. from New York.
Bryant, who also faces a firearms charge, is being held on unrelated federal drug charges and is expected to face trial later, a spokesperson for the prosecutor’s office said.
In a detention note, the prosecutor’s office said Bryant was observed entering DJ’s Queens recording studio just before the Oct. 20, 2002, shooting. Clothing left at the scene contained his DNA, the note said.
Bryant allegedly claimed to an associate that he was the shooter who shot Mizell, but the memo cast doubt on that claim and said evidence to be presented at an upcoming trial would show another person accused of the murder, Karl Jordan Jr., shot twice. from close.
One of the shots hit an unidentified person in the leg, the memo said. After Mizell was shot in the head, Bryant, Jordan and a third person, Ronald Washington, fled, the memo said.
Washington, who was charged with pointing a gun at someone inside the studio and ordering the person to lie on the floor, was charged with the same charges as Bryant. Jordan has been charged with these and other crimes, including multiple counts of cocaine distribution.
In the detention memo, prosecutors argued that Bryant should remain behind bars pending trial because he is a flight risk and a danger to the community. The memo lists previous drug charges, multiple apparent aliases and a statement Bryant allegedly made to authorities suggesting he would flee to Cuba if released.
A lawyer for Bryant said Tuesday he had just learned of the charges.
“Mr. Bryant will plead not guilty,” attorney Cesar de Castro said in an email. “Getting an indictment before a secret grand jury, applying an extremely low burden of proof, is one thing. Proving it at trial is another.
Jordan and Washington pleaded not guilty. In an affidavit, Washington previously said Mizell was a “childhood friend,” and he described detectives investigating the case as hostile.
A Washington attorney on Tuesday called Bryant’s indictment a “game changer” and said his allegations undermine the prosecution’s case.
“What were they going to do if this case went to trial in February…as planned?” the attorney, Susan Kellman, said in an email.
A lawyer for Jordan did not respond to a request for comment Tuesday evening.
After Washington and Jordan were indicted in 2020, the prosecutor’s office said the motive for the murder was based on Mizell’s “previous acquisition of 10 kilograms of cocaine” from a Midwestern supplier.
“The cocaine was allegedly intended for distribution in Maryland by Washington, Jordan and other co-conspirators. Mizell had recently informed Washington that the defendant would not be involved in the distribution of narcotics in Maryland, which precipitated the murder plot.
Mizell’s family said at the time that they had “mixed emotions” about the indictment.
“We sincerely hope these indictments are a solid step towards justice in Jay’s murder,” his family said.
With their distinct style and mainstream hits that became rap anthems, Run-DMC are considered one of the most influential hip-hop groups of the 1980s.
The group was founded in the Hollis section of Queens by Mizell and two other members – Joseph Simmons and Darryl McDaniels – and were inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2009.
This article originally appeared on NBCNews.com