A federal judge has denied a motion to either dismiss the murder counts against the two men accused of killing Jam Master Jay in 2002 or to try them separately but granted a motion to several drug trafficking charges. 

In a 17-page ruling, U.S. District Judge LaShann DeArcy Hall rejected arguments by the defense team for Karl Jordan Jr. and Ronald Tinard Washington, which argued in part that federal prosecutors deliberately waited 12 years to charge the pair with murder in order to hamstring the defense. The attorneys also argued that trying the pair together would prejudice a jury. 

Jordan and Washington are accused of entering Jam Master Jay's recording studio, armed with firearms, and murdering Jay execution-style in front of several witnesses. The motive was allegedly a dispute over a cocaine deal. The trial has been tentatively scheduled for February 2023. 

Hall did agree to sever eight drug trafficking counts against Jordan, which alleged he conspired to sell cocaine from 2016 to 2020. Prosecutors have claimed those charges are a result of an undercover operation but that they relate to the motive behind Jam Master Jay's killing and involve many of the same witnesses as the murder charge. 

Hall ruled that's irrelevant and that the two alleged crimes appear totally separate. Prosecutors must now try Jordan on those counts separately. 

"The Indictment is devoid of any facts underlying the charges, let alone any allegations connecting the 2002 murder with the 2016 conspiracy. And, differences between the alleged conspiracies are apparent," Hall wrote in his order. 

Both Jordan and Washington's attorneys have declared their clients will prove their innocence at trial, with Jordan arguing he has an alibi for the night of Jam Master Jay's homicide and Washington arguing that another person was the man who fired the fatal shots. Parts of Washington's defense have been kept from the public thus far; like several defense motions, the portion of Hall's order that describes Washington's defense has been redacted. 

But Washington's attorney cited a sentencing transcript in an armed robbery case against Washington from 2006, where prosecutors said they could demonstrate Washington murdered both Jam Master Jay and New York rapper Stretch, who was gunned down in Queens in 1995. The defense argued that this demonstrated the prosecution could have charged Washington years ago but waited in order to place the defense at a disadvantage. 

"It seems contrary to reason that the Government would delay an indictment on a murder charge against Jordan and Washington—risking loss of witnesses and other evidence—on the hope that it might 12 years later bring additional charges against Jordan," Hall wrote.

Written by: Nate Gartrell