Former rap mogul Marion "Suge" Knight is accused of murder in a videotaped hit-and-run
Judge declines to reduce his bail from $10 million
Former rap mogul Marion “Suge” Knight pleaded not guilty Thursday to murder and all other charges related to a fatal hit-and-run incident in January in Compton, California.
His attorney asked the court to further reduce Knight’s bail, now set at $10 million, but Los Angeles County Judge Ronald Coen denied the request.
The judge lowered Knight’s bail earlier this month, to $10 million from $25 million, after defense lawyers called the $25 million figure excessive for the circumstances.
Knight faces one count of murder for the death of Terry Carter, one count of attempted murder in the case of Cle “Bone” Sloan, who was maimed in the incident, and one count of hit-and-run.
Knight, 49, faces up to life in prison if convicted.
He is accused of running over the two men during an argument.
In court testimony earlier this month, Sloan, 51, declined to identify Knight as his attacker because Sloan doesn’t want to be a “snitch” who sends Knight to prison, according to CNN affiliates KABC and KTLA.
Prosecutors offered Sloan immunity, but he still refused to testify against Knight during the preliminary hearing, the affiliates reported.
The deadly incident occurred about 11 miles south of downtown Los Angeles on January 29, after a flare-up on the set of the biopic “Straight Outta Compton,” a film about the highly influential and controversial rap group N.W.A. At the time, Knight was out on bail in a separate robbery case.
The alleged argument spilled over to the parking lot of Tam’s Burgers in Compton. The hit-and-run was captured on videotape, which shows Knight inside a red truck.
In the video, the truck pulls into the entrance of the Compton restaurant and is approached by Sloan, who was working security at the site.
The two men appear to talk for a few moments, with Knight still in his vehicle. Suddenly, the vehicle backs up, knocking Sloan to the ground. While still in reverse, the truck moves out of range of the security camera.
The vehicle is then seen zooming forward, back into camera range, running over Sloan a second time, and then running over the second man, Carter, a former rap music label owner.
Carter, 55, later died.
Knight’s attorney Matthew Fletcher has argued that Knight was the victim and was only defending himself against Sloan, whom the defense attorney accused of possessing a gun at the time.
Fletcher added that Knight’s defense was to stand his ground.
The incident is the latest run-in with the law for Knight, who founded the wildly successful Death Row Records in 1991 and signed artists such as Snoop Doggy Dogg (now known as Snoop Lion) and Tupac Shakur.
Knight was driving the car in which Shakur was a passenger when the rapper was shot to death in Las Vegas in 1996.
Shortly afterward, Knight spent several years in prison for violating parole on assault and weapons convictions. That prison time – along with Shakur’s death, feuds between Knight and a number of rappers, and desertions by Dr. Dre, Snoop and others – contributed to the label’s bankruptcy in 2006.
In August, Knight and two other people were shot while inside a celebrity-filled Sunset Strip party hosted by singer Chris Brown on the eve of the MTV Video Music Awards.