Rap mogul Marion “Suge” Knight has officially been charged with murder and attempted murder after an incident in Compton last week left one man dead and one injured.
The charges against Knight, coupled with previous charges against him for different crimes, puts the 49-year-old in danger of serving a life sentence if convicted in court. After turning himself in on Friday, he’s scheduled to appear for an arraignment in Compton Tuesday.
Who Is Suge Knight?
Many may remember Knight as the co-founder of Death Row Records with Dr. Dre in 1991. According to CNN, the label grew wildly successful, signing artists like Snoop Doggy Dogg and Tupac Shakur early on. Knight was driving the car in which Shakur was riding passenger when armed gunmen shot him to death in Las Vegas in 1996. Following the incident, Knight spent several years in jail for violating parole on assault and weapons convictions. Soon after, Dr. Dre left the record label as it spiraled downwards. Knight eventually declared bankruptcy in 2006. In August, Knight survived his second shooting inside a celebrity-filled nightclub in L.A. at an event hosted by Chris Brown. The incident left Knight with six bullet wounds.
Knight is being charged with one count of murder, one count of attempted murder and two counts of hit-and-run for backing his truck into two men after an argument and fight. Terry Carter, 55, didn’t survive the fatal hit-and-run. Cle “Bone” Sloan, 51, escaped with minor injuries. Knight turned himself into authorities on Friday and was officially charged on Monday.
According to The Los Angeles Times, the confrontation began at 3 p.m. Thursday when an argument broke out on the set of the upcoming biopic “Straight Outta Compton,” in which both men were allegedly working. According to the Associated Press (via WTNH), Knight and Sloan started arguing on set and eventually left. Somehow the two combatants reunited at a nearby fast-food restaurant and an argument took place in the parking lot that resulted in multiple people allegedly attacking Knight. He managed to get in his truck and ran the two victims down before fleeing the scene.
The main point of contention, that will likely come up at the arraignment, is whether or not Knight intentionally ran over the two men. Knight’s attorney, James Blatt, claims that his client fled for his life and was just trying to get himself away from the scene as quickly as possible, meaning the death of Carter was an accident.
"We feel strongly Mr. Knight did not do anything wrong in this matter. He was attacked by a number of individuals; that has already been corroborated by certain witnesses. He left the scene because he was in fear for his safety and life," Blatt told CBS Los Angeles.
It’s worth mentioning that Blatt is saying Knight and Carter were close friends, but Carter’s relatives are saying that is a false mischaracterization of the their relationship, according to The L.A. Times. Video evidence of the incident exists and is being reviewed by investigators. Speaking to the outlet, Sgt. Richard Biddle of the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department said he reviewed the video and believes that Knight intentionally maneuvered his vehicle to hit the victims.
Knight was released from prison in 2001 after being sentenced for violating the terms of his probation in an earlier assault case in 1997. In 2008 he got in trouble with the law once again when he was arrested on suspicion of drug possession and aggravated assault. The next year he plead guilty to misdemeanor battery.
When the incident took place Thursday, CBS Los Angeles reports that Knight was on bail in a pending robbery case over the theft of a paparazzi’s camera. The rapper could be facing life in prison with this crime being his potential “third strike.” The outlet reports that Knight’s $2 million bail was revoked Monday after a bail commissioner convinced the court that Knight was not only a possible flight risk, but could reasonably intimidate witnesses against testifying against him. However, as of Tuesday morning, the jail records showed his bail was reinstated.
UPDATE (2/3/15) 2:58 p.m. EST:
Suge Knight appeared in court Tuesday and plead "not guilty" to all charges. He is now being represented by a different attorney, David Kenner.