Federal prosecutors in the Eastern District of New York filed a superseding indictment on Tuesday, charging Jay Bryant, 49, in the death of Jason “Jay” Mizell, known professionally as Jam Master Jay.
Two other men, Ronald Washington and Karl Jordan Jr., had previously been indicted in August 2020 for the death of Jay. The hip-hop trailblazer was shot in the head in his studio on Oct. 30, 2002.
Bryant’s attorney, César de Castro, said in an email that they had just learned of the charges.
“Securing an indictment in a secret grand jury, applying an extremely low burden of proof, is one thing. Proving it at trial is another matter,” he said.
Bryant, from Queens, was in custody already on unrelated federal drug charges.
At the time the other two men were indicted, authorities said Jay’s death involved a drug deal gone bad. In a letter filed with the court on Tuesday, prosecutors said Bryant and the two other men entered the building that evening, and then fled after the shooting. They said Bryant was seen going into the building, and his DNA was recovered at the scene.
Jay was in Run-DMC with Joseph “Run” Simmons and Darryl “DMC” McDaniel in the early 1980s. The group helped bring hip-hop music into the mainstream. Run DMC’s hits include “King of Rock,” “It’s Tricky” and a remake of Aerosmith’s “Walk This Way.”
For years, Jay’s death lingered as a cold case, with witnesses reluctant to speak up despite reward money being offered.