Federal prosecutors in Brooklyn on Tuesday charged a Queens man with murder in the 2002 killing of the pioneering hip-hop D.J. Jam Master Jay, bringing to three the number of people accused of taking part in the slaying.
The man charged on Tuesday, Jay Bryant, 49, was already being held while awaiting trial on a separate drug-related indictment, prosecutors said in a court filing. The charges against him in the killing of Jam Master Jay, whose given name was Jason Mizell, include murder while engaged in narcotics trafficking and other drug-trafficking counts.
César de Castro, a lawyer for Mr. Bryant, said his client, whose arraignment had not been scheduled, 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 said. “Proving it at trial is another matter. ”
Mr. Mizell earned worldwide fame and respect as Run-DMC’s D.J., providing the musical foundation for rappers whose lyrics focused on girls, sneakers and basketball. His killing stunned hip-hop fans, who had trouble fathoming how someone whose music rarely touched on violent subjects could die so violently.
In announcing murder charges against two other men in the slaying, Karl Jordan Jr. and Ronald Washington, in August 2020, New York City and federal authorities blamed the fatal shooting on a cocaine deal gone wrong.
Mr. Jordan and Mr. Washington, prosecutors said in court papers, had “executed” Mr. Mizell, 37, after he sought to exclude them from “a multi-kilogram, multistate narcotics transaction.” In July 2002, just months before he was killed, the court papers said, Mr. Mizell had received about 10 kilos of cocaine “on consignment” from a supplier in Maryland.
Mr. Washington and Mr. Jordan were supposed to have been his partners in the deal, the papers said, but after a dispute, which was not described, Mr. Mizell threatened to cut them out.
Mr. Jordan, 39, and Mr. Washington, 59, have pleaded not guilty. They are scheduled for trial in January 2024.
As for Mr. Bryant, who has lived in Jamaica and Far Rockaway, prosecutors say in a court filing that he entered Mr. Mizell’s recording studio on Merrick Boulevard in Queens with Mr. Washington and Mr. Jordan on Oct. 20, 2002.
Mr. Washington pointed a gun at another person in the studio, directing that the person lie on the floor, the filing says. Mr. Jordan approached Mr. Mizell and fired two shots at him at close range, including one to the head that killed him, the filing says.
“They walked in and murdered him in cold blood,” Seth D. DuCharme, the acting U.S. attorney in Brooklyn, said when Mr. Washington and Mr. Jordan were charged in 2020.
Mr. Bryant was seen entering the building immediately before the shooting, and clothing with his DNA was found at the scene, the indictment says. He later admitted to participating in the murder and even told one person that he was the shooter, the indictment says. Prosecutors do not believe that, however, and say Mr. Jordan fired the fatal shot.