The ex-girlfriend of one of the defendants indicted in the 2002 death of Jam Master Jay told a Brooklyn jury on Thursday that the defendant “basically” confessed to killing the Run-DMC DJ, according to The Associated Press.
The woman, Daynia McDonald, claimed that Ronald Washington brought her to the recording studio to meet Jay, whose real name is Jason Mizell, and then called her hours later to tell her Mizell was dead. She asked him how he knew, and she testified, “He said, ‘Because I was there.’” When she asked him if he had anything to do with Mizell’s death, she claimed, “he basically said yes.”
The testimony took a turn, however, when prosecutor Mark Misorek asked overly-leading questions. The AP reports he asked, “Did he say he killed Jam Master Jay?” and “Did he say that people get what they deserve?” She replied yes to both, but Washington’s defense attorney, Susan Kellman, objected, telling the judge that Misorek had planted “a seed of prejudice” with the jury.
She requested a mistrial, but U.S. District Judge LaShann DeArcy Hall refused since McDonald had made similar statements previously. She nevertheless admonished the prosecutors, saying, “There was no need whatsoever” for those questions. Prosecutor Artie McConnell told the judge that the line of questioning was such so as not to evoke testimony from the witness that the judge had decided was off limits.
Judge DeArcy Hall asked jurors to ignore the two questions. When Misorek asked whether Washington “said anything else about Jam Master Jay’s murder,” McDonald replied, “Um, he just said that he killed him.” The AP reports that the judge allowed this answer to stay on the record.
U.S. attorneys are attempting to convince jurors that Washington allegedly stood guard while his friend, Karl Jordan Jr., fatally shot Mizell. They claim that the killing was in retaliation for Mizell cutting Washington out of a drug trafficking deal. Attorneys for Washington and Jordan say their clients are not the killers and have suggested that witnesses implicating them are relying on faulty, decades-old memories. If convicted, both men face a minimum sentence of 20 years in prison.
PIX11 reported on Wednesday that another witness told the jury that Washington had claimed to him that he killed Mizell. New York Daily News described the witness as an inmate in the Metropolitan Detention Center who said Washington made the claim to him in 2011.
Testimony on Wednesday also focused on Jay Bryant, a third man indicted in Mizell’s death. Jay’s uncle, Raymond Bryant, testified that in 2002, Jay told him he was involved. “He said he did it,” Raymond said.
Jay Bryant will be standing trial at a later date. PIX11 reports that Raymond Bryant’s testimony on Wednesday was meant to establish a connection between Mizell and Washington and Jordan. Prosecutors have alleged that Mizell entered the building that housed the recording studio where he was shot and let the two defendants in through another door. A woman named Tana Davis, who worked at another business in the building, saw a man matching Bryant’s description walk through the hall after she heard gun shots in the studio.
On Monday, an eyewitness, Lydia High, told the jury that Washington had ordered her on the ground when she tried leave the room after seeing Mizell shot. She said she knew Washington and recognized him. Last week, another eyewitness, Uriel “Tony” Rincon, testified that he recognized Jordan as he said hello to Mizell and allegedly shot him in the head. Both witnesses said they were reluctant to come forward to the police with these claims because they were afraid for their safety.
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