Knight pleaded 'no contest' in his latest court appearance on Thursday, and will be sentenced on October 4th.
Fallen hip-hop mogul Marion ‘Suge’ Knight is facing the prospect of 28 years in prison, after entering a plea of no contest to a charge of manslaughter over the death of a man in Los Angeles nearly four years ago.
The 53 year old Death Row Records co-founder entered the plea at Los Angeles Superior Court on Thursday (September 20th), just days before jury selection had been due to begin in a trial for the long-delayed case.
Knight is charged with murder, attempted murder and hit-and-run after he fled the scene of an altercation outside a burger stand in Compton in January 2015. He had been involved in a scuffle with Cle ‘Bone’ Sloan, which ended with Knight injuring Sloan with a pick-up truck and also running over a businessman, Terry Carter, who died from his injuries.
Suge Knight is facing 28 years in prison
The mogul’s lawyers had argued that Sloan and other attackers were carrying guns and meant to kill Knight; but Sloan has denied carrying a firearm during the confrontation.
However, during the hearing yesterday, Knight replied “no contest” to Judge Ronald Coen’s questions (in California law, this is equivalent to a guilty plea) and will be formally sentenced on October 4th.
The plea deal calls for 22 years imprisonment on the voluntary manslaughter charge, plus a further six years as the charge is Knight’s third ‘strike’. The murder charges against him will be dismissed by prosecutors, along with separate charges relating to robbery and making criminal threats.
Had he been found guilty of murder as originally charged, he would have faced life imprisonment, according to prosecutors.
Numerous delays and controversy marked the run-up to Knight’s trial, which had been due to begin on October 1st under tight security and secrecy. Court officials had confirmed that no witness list would be released before the trial, and that some witnesses might not be identified by name during proceedings.
Knight had already collapsed during one court hearing, and had on numerous occasions complained about the proceedings in court against the advice of his lawyers. Additionally, two of Knight’s former attorneys were indicted on witness-tampering charges, and his fiancée pleaded no contest to selling video footage of Knight hitting the two men with his pick-up.