Despite President Joe Biden’s anti-death penalty stance during the 2020 campaign, federal prosecutors in New York are still considering seeking a death sentence against the two men indicted on charges of murdering Jam Master Jay, according to recent court filings.
Karl “Lil’ D” Jordan Jr. and Ronald “Tinard” Washington were indicted on murder conspiracy and cocaine trafficking charges last August, related to the 2002 fatal shooting of Jam Master Jay. Prosecutors allege that the men murdered Jam Master Jay, whose real name was Jason Mizell, over a dispute involving a 10-kilogram cocaine deal.
In a court filing submitted Thursday, federal prosecutors wrote they are still engaged in an “internal deliberative process” of whether to seek death. Defense attorneys for both men have said they will conduct a “mitigation investigation,” meaning they will submit reasons to the U.S. Attorney’s office stating why they think both defendants should be spared execution.
There is no deadline for when federal prosecutors must decide whether to pursue death, but the next court date is scheduled for April 19. In the meantime, it is an open question whether Biden’s pick for U.S. Attorney General, Merrick Garland, will make good on Biden’s campaign pledge to halt the federal death penalty.
If federal prosecutors opt to pursue death, it will likely add years to the court process in a case that is already moving at a snail’s pace. Though the indictment was filed seven months ago, prosecutors are still turning over discovery to the defense, which includes DNA evidence, fingerprints, witness statements, and electronic data, according to court records.
Both Jordan and Washington are in federal custody in New York pending a resolution in the case. They have both entered not guilty pleas.
Written by Nate Gartrell