Suge Knight pleads no contest to manslaughter over fatal confrontation

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Averting a murder trial that had been nearly four years in coming, former rap mogul Marion "Suge" Knight pleaded no contest Thursday to voluntary manslaughter for running over and killing a Compton businessman and agreed to serve nearly 30 years in prison.

The Death Row Records co-founder entered the plea in Los Angeles Superior Court after striking a deal with prosecutors, and has agreed to serve 28 years. Jury selection for his trial, which could have led to a life sentence, had been scheduled to begin Monday.

Knight was charged with murder, attempted murder and hit-and-run after fleeing the scene of a dispute in January 2015 outside a Compton burger stand. Knight and Cle "Bone" Sloan, a consultant on the N.W.A. biopic "Straight Outta Compton," traded punches before Knight clipping him with his pickup truck and ran over businessman Terry Carter, who died from his injuries.

33 PHOTOS
Marion "Suge" Knight
See Gallery
Marion "Suge" Knight
Defendant Marion "Suge" Knight attends a hearing with attorney Thomas Mesereau in his murder case in Los Angeles, California in this July 7, 2015, file photo. A judge on October 13, 2015, ordered one time rap mogul Marion "Suge" Knight and comedian Katt Williams to stand trial on robbery charges in connection with the theft of a camera from a paparazzi photographer in upscale Beverly Hills. REUTERS/Patrick T. Fallon/Files
Marion Suge Knight (L), with attorney Albert DeBlanc, pleads no contest to voluntary manslaughter in Los Angeles Superior Court on Thursday, September 20, 2018. The plea deal calls for Knight, 53, to serve 28 years in state prison. - Former rap mogul Marion 'Suge' Knight pleaded no contest to voluntary manslaughter on Thursday and will serve 28 years in prison for running over and killing a man three years ago. Knight's plea, which was unveiled in a Los Angeles courtroom, came just days before he was to stand trial for the death of 55-year-old Terry Carter, who was run down outside an LA restaurant in 2015 following a dispute over the movie 'Straight Outta Compton.' (Photo by Gary Coronado / POOL / AFP) (Photo credit should read GARY CORONADO/AFP/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 20: Marion 'Suge' Knight exits court after after pleading no contest to voluntary manslaughter in front of Judge Ronald S. Coen at the Criminal Justice Center in Los Angeles, Calif., on Sept. 20, 2018. Knight will serve 28 years in state prison in the 2015 hit-and-run death of a man outside a Compton restaurant after a dispute related to the film Straight Outta Compton. (Photo by Gary Coronado/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
Marion Suge Knight (L), with attorney Albert DeBlanc, pleads no contest to voluntary manslaughter in Los Angeles Superior Court on Thursday, September 20, 2018. The plea deal calls for Knight, 53, to serve 28 years in state prison. - Former rap mogul Marion 'Suge' Knight pleaded no contest to voluntary manslaughter on Thursday and will serve 28 years in prison for running over and killing a man three years ago. Knight's plea, which was unveiled in a Los Angeles courtroom, came just days before he was to stand trial for the death of 55-year-old Terry Carter, who was run down outside an LA restaurant in 2015 following a dispute over the movie 'Straight Outta Compton.' (Photo by Gary Coronado / POOL / AFP) (Photo credit should read GARY CORONADO/AFP/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 09: Marion 'Suge' Knight appears for a hearing at the Clara Shortridge Foltz Criminal Justice Center March 9, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. The hearing was scheduled to determine if the two criminal cases against Knight, one for murder and attempted murder when Knight allegedly ran over two men in a Compton parking lot after an argument and another case involving an alleged robbery and criminal threats to a photographer in Beverly Hills, should be moved to the downtown Los Angeles courthouse. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 02: Marion 'Suge' Knight and his lawyer David E Kenner, front, attend court at the Criminal Courts Building on March 2, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. The hearing was scheduled to determine if the two criminal cases against Knight, one for murder and attempted murder when Knight allegedly ran over two men in a Compton parking lot after an argument and another case involving an alleged robbery and criminal threats to a photographer in Beverly Hills, should be moved to the downtown Los Angeles courthouse. (Photo by Mark Boster-Pool/Getty Images)
COMPTON, CA - FEBRUARY 09: Marion 'Suge' Knight attends Compton Court House for his bail hearing with his lawyers David Kenner (L) and Brett Greenfield at Compton Courthouse on February 9, 2015 in Compton, California. Knight will remain in jail until his next hearing. Knight is charged with murder and attempted murder after a hit-and-run incident following an argument in a parking lot on January 29. (Photo by Robyn Beck-Pool/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 09: Marion 'Suge' Knight appears at Clara Shortridge Foltz Criminal Justice Center March 9, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. The hearing was scheduled to determine if the two criminal cases against Knight, one for murder and attempted murder when Knight allegedly ran over two men in a Compton parking lot after an argument and another case involving an alleged robbery and criminal threats to a photographer in Beverly Hills, should be moved to the downtown Los Angeles courthouse. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 19: Lawyers representing Marion 'Suge' Knight Brett Greenfield (L) and David E Kenner stand during a court appearance for Marion 'Suge' Knight and Katt Williams at the Airport Branch Courthouse on February 19, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. Knight was scheduled to be arraigned on felony charges stemming from alleged criminal threats and robbery of a camera from a photographer in September in Beverly Hills. (Photo by Nick Ut-Pool/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 09: Marion 'Suge' Knight (C) escorted by Los Angeles Sheriff Deputies after appearing for a hearing at the Clara Shortridge Foltz Criminal Justice Center March 9, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. The hearing was scheduled to determine if the two criminal cases against Knight, one for murder and attempted murder when Knight allegedly ran over two men in a Compton parking lot after an argument and another case involving an alleged robbery and criminal threats to a photographer in Beverly Hills, should be moved to the downtown Los Angeles courthouse. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 09: Marion 'Suge' Knight appears at Clara Shortridge Foltz Criminal Justice Center March 9, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. The hearing was scheduled to determine if the two criminal cases against Knight, one for murder and attempted murder when Knight allegedly ran over two men in a Compton parking lot after an argument and another case involving an alleged robbery and criminal threats to a photographer in Beverly Hills, should be moved to the downtown Los Angeles courthouse. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
COMPTON, CA - FEBRUARY 09: Marion 'Suge' Knight attends Compton Court House for his bail hearing with his lawyers David Kenner (L) and Brett Greenfield at Compton Courthouse on February 9, 2015 in Compton, California. Knight will remain in jail until his next hearing. Knight is charged with murder and attempted murder after a hit-and-run incident following an argument in a parking lot on January 29. (Photo by Robyn Beck-Pool/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 02: Marion 'Suge' Knight and his lawyer David E Kenner, front, attend court at the Criminal Courts Building on March 2, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. The hearing was scheduled to determine if the two criminal cases against Knight, one for murder and attempted murder when Knight allegedly ran over two men in a Compton parking lot after an argument and another case involving an alleged robbery and criminal threats to a photographer in Beverly Hills, should be moved to the downtown Los Angeles courthouse. (Photo by Mark Boster-Pool/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 02: Marion 'Suge' Knight attends court at the Criminal Courts Building on March 2, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. The hearing was scheduled to determine if the two criminal cases against Knight, one for murder and attempted murder when Knight allegedly ran over two men in a Compton parking lot after an argument and another case involving an alleged robbery and criminal threats to a photographer in Beverly Hills, should be moved to the downtown Los Angeles courthouse. (Photo by Mark Boster-Pool/Getty Images)
In a brief court appearance Monday Suge Knight said he fired the lawyers handling his murder case. Speaking on his own behalf, he told the judge he's received poor medical treatment while in jail and that he's going blind. His case was transferred to another judge, but Knight had to leave early to receive more treatment. It's the third time he's gone straight from court to the hospital.
#BREAKINGNEWS: Suge Knight interviewed by homicide detectives in Compton fatal hit & run: http://t.co/0MnoV2Hwl7 http://t.co/PIoL4mHuKF
Suge Knight at the Shore Club in Miami, FL (Photo by Johnny Nunez/WireImage)
LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 30: (EXCLUSIVE COVERAGE) Actress Felicia Cox, music producer Suge Knight, and actress Betsy Cox attend Posing Heroes, 'A Dog Day Afternoon' Benefiting A Wish For Animals on March 30, 2013 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Michael Bezjian/WireImage)
LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 30: (EXCLUSIVE COVERAGE) Music producer Suge Knight attends Posing Heroes, 'A Dog Day Afternoon' Benefiting A Wish For Animals on March 30, 2013 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Michael Bezjian/WireImage)
LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 30: Marion 'Suge' Knight is seen on April 30, 2012 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Bauer-Griffin/GC Images)
LAS VEGAS - AUGUST 23: Marion 'Suge' Knight attends the Dylan George and Abbot + Main Spring 2012 Launch and official PROJECT after party at Chateau Nightclub & Gardens on August 23, 2011 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Isaac Brekken/WireImage)
LAS VEGAS - MAY 03: Suge Knight portraits on May 3, 2009 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Denise Truscello/WireImage)
LAS VEGAS - MAY 02: Suge Knight attends TAO Las Vegas Fight After Party at The Venetian Hotel and Casino Resort on May 2, 2009 on May 02, 2009 in Las Vegas (Photo by Denise Truscello/WireImage)
LAS VEGAS - FEBRUARY 17: Music producer Suge Knight attends the Belvedere Ultra Lounge Day 4 At Club OPM on February 17, 2007 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chad Buchanan/Getty Images for Moet USA)
SACRAMENTO, CA - NOVEMBER 8: Suge Knight attends a Sacramento Kings game as they take on the Detroit Pistons on November 8, 2006 at ARCO Arena in Sacramento, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2006 NBAE (Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images)
SACRAMENTO, CA - NOVEMBER 8: Music producer Suge Knight watches the Detroit Pistons game against the Sacramento Kings on November 8, 2006 at ARCO Arena in Sacramento, California. The Kings won 99-86. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2006 NBAE (Photo by Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images)
Marion 'Suge' Knight and guests (Photo by Craig Durling/WireImage)
Suge Knight during 2005 MTV VMA - Kanye West's G.O.O.D. Music Party in Association with Hennessy Paradis - Arrivals at Skybar at The Shoreclub in Miami Beach, Florida, United States. (Photo by Lawrence Lucier/FilmMagic)
Kanye West and Suge Knight (Photo by Johnny Nunez/WireImage)
HOLLYWOOD - JUNE 28: Music Producer Suge Knight is seen in the audience during the BET Awards 05 at the Kodak Theatre on June 28, 2005 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES - NOVEMBER 18: Music Producer Suge Knight (L) speaks at CBS Studios during a taping of 'The Late Late Show' on November 18, 2004 in Los Angeles, California. Suge Knight Gives his take on the incident at this week's Vibe Awards. (Photo by Mark Mainz/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES - NOVEMBER 18: Music Producer Suge Knight (L) and guest host D.L.Hughley appear at CBS Studios for a taping of 'The Late Late Show' on November 18, 2004 in Los Angeles, California. Suge Knight Gives his take on the incident at this week's Vibe Awards. (Photo by Mark Mainz/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES - NOVEMBER 18: Music producer Suge Knight (L) and guest host D.L.Hughley (R) appear at CBS Studios for a taping of 'The Late Late Show' November 18, 2004 in Los Angeles, California. Suge Knight gave his take on the incident at this week's Vibe Awards. The show will air November 19, 2004. (Photo by Mark Mainz/Getty Images)
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

Knight's attorneys have said he was acting in self-defense and was fleeing armed attackers when he ran over Carter and Sloan. Sloan has denied he was carrying a gun during the confrontation.

During Thursday's hearing, Knight, wearing orange jail attire with his arms and legs in chains, answered Judge Ronald Coen's questions, loudly and quickly saying "no contest" when the judge asked for his plea. He will be formally sentenced on Oct. 4.

The plea deal calls for Knight to serve 22 years in prison on the voluntary manslaughter count, and another six years because it is a third strike violation.

Knight disagreed with the judge's description of one of his previous strikes and put a pause in the proceedings that briefly raised tension in the courtroom.

"You served nine years for it," Coen said, before Knight agreed to move on.

Carter's daughter, Crystal, sat in the front row of the courtroom and displayed no visible reaction to the proceedings. "I'm surprised he pleaded out," Crystal Carter said outside court. "Normally he likes the cameras to be on him 24-7."

The agreement also absolves Knight in two other cases, both from 2014. He was accused of stealing a camera from a woman and of sending threatening text messages to "Straight Outta Compton" director F. Gary Gray.

Delays, detours and drama marked the run-up to Knight's trial, which was expected to begin Oct. 1 under tight security and secrecy. Court officials had said that no witness list would be released ahead of the trial, and that some witnesses might not be identified by name during the case.

Surveillance video that showed Knight hitting the two men with his truck was likely to play a central role for both sides.

Sloan, who had feuded with Knight for years in a dispute with roots in their Compton gang ties, was likely to have been the trial's key witness, but may have been a difficult one for the prosecution.

Despite giving a detailed account of the incident to police on the day it happened, just a few months later at a preliminary hearing he claimed to have little memory of it, and even refused at first to identify Knight as the person sitting in the courtroom who he'd fought with.

Knight collapsed during one court hearing, two of his former attorneys were indicted on witness-tampering charges, and his fiancee pleaded no contest to selling video of Knight hitting the two men with his truck.

His attorney Albert DeBlanc Jr., appointed by the court five months ago, was his 16th, and Knight tried to fire him and get yet another lawyer just a day before the deal was reached.

Knight would frequently, against the advice of Coen and his attorneys, speak extensively during hearings, complaining about jail conditions, his attorneys and his health issues.

On Thursday, while Coen read legal language about the plea and told Knight he was subject to deportation if he was not a citizen, Knight said "ICE is coming to get me?" to a smattering of laughs.

DeBlanc declined comment on the plea agreement. Prosecutors did not speak to reporters outside court.

The 53-year-old was a key player in the gangster rap scene that flourished in the 1990s, and his label once listed Dr. Dre, Tupac Shakur and Snoop Dogg among its artists. Knight lost control of the company after it was forced into bankruptcy. He has prior felony convictions for armed robbery and assault with a gun. He pleaded no contest in 1995 and was sentenced to five years' probation for assaulting two rap entertainers at a Hollywood recording studio in 1992.

He was sentenced in February 1997 to prison for violating terms of that probation by taking part in a fight at a Las Vegas hotel hours before Shakur was fatally wounded in a drive-by attack as he rode in Knight's car just east of the Las Vegas Strip. Shakur's slaying remains unsolved.

Read Full Story

Sign up for Entertainment Insider by AOL to get the hottest pop culture news delivered straight to your inbox!

Subscribe to our other newsletters

Emails may offer personalized content or ads. Learn more. You may unsubscribe any time.