Suge Knight Pleads No Contest To Manslaughter, Will Serve 28 Years

Former rap mogul Marion “Suge” Knight pleaded no contest Thursday to voluntary manslaughter for running over and killing a Compton businessman nearly four years ago and agreed to serve nearly 30 years in prison.

The Death Row Records co-founder entered the plea in Los Angeles Superior Court and has agreed to serve 28 years in prison. The plea came days before jury selection was scheduled to begin in the long-delayed case.

Knight was charged with murder, attempted murder and hit-and-run after fleeing the scene of an altercation in January 2015 outside a Compton burger stand. Knight and Cle “Bone” Sloan, a consultant on the N.W.A. biopic Straight Outta Compton were involved in a fistfight that ended with Knight clipping the man with his pickup truck and running over businessman Terry Carter, who died from his injuries.

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 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.

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.”

Delays, detours and drama marked the run-up to Knight’s trial, which was expected to begin 10/1 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.

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. DeBlanc declined comment Thursday.

While awaiting trial, Knight was also accused of threatening Straight Outta Compton director F. Gary Gray.

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.

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.

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.

He had faced life in prison if convicted of murder for killing Carter.

UPDATE: A judge on Thursday sentenced former rap mogul Marion “Suge” Knight to 28 years in prison for the 2015 death of a man he ran over outside a Compton burger stand.

Knight listened without reaction as members of the dead man’s family addressed the court, describing 55-year-old Terry Carter as a deeply devoted husband, father, grandfather, and friend.

Carter’s daughter Crystal called Knight “a disgusting, selfish disgrace to the human species.”

Knight wore a large cross and orange jail attire during Thursday’s sentencing, which draws to a close a nearly four year court saga over the fatal 2015 confrontation. He had been fighting with a longtime rival through the window of his pickup truck outside the burger stand and struck that man with his truck before running over Carter.

Knight’s numerous defense lawyers had contended he was acting in self defense, but the Death Row Records co-founder pleaded no contest to voluntary manslaughter last month, averting a trial on murder and attempted murder charges.

He answered procedural questions but did not address the court Thursday.

Knight has felony convictions for armed robbery and assault. He lost control of Death Row after it was forced into bankruptcy. His previous convictions make him ineligible for probation, Los Angeles Superior Court Ronald Coen ruled.

The agreement also clears 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.

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