Former rap mogul Marion “Suge” Knight, who is charged with murder and attempted murder for allegedly running over two men in Compton, changed attorneys Monday.
Outside the courtroom after a quick hearing in which March 20 was confirmed as the date of Knight’s bail review hearing, his new attorney said a video released Sunday night by TMZ shows “this was a set-up.”
Matthew Fletcher told reporters that the “instigators in this case are the alleged victims,” alleging they lured Knight to a parking lot and attacked him.
“You have every duty to defend yourself,” the defense attorney said.
Fletcher said he was confident that California law would exonerate his client, alleging that 55-year-old Terry Carter’s death was “a natural and probable consequence” of a plan by Carter and two other men to assault Knight.
He used the analogy of a getaway driver for a bank robbery being killed while committing a crime.
“They started it. They attacked him,” Fletcher alleged.
The District Attorney’s Office declined to comment on the surveillance footage.
The video shows a red truck, identified as Knight’s, backing up and clipping a man, identified as 51-year-old Cle “Bone” Sloan, at 2:55 p.m. Jan 29 in the parking lot of Tam’s Burgers in the 1200 block of West Rosecrans Avenue near Central Avenue.
The red truck is then seen gunning forward and hitting Sloan and Carter, who died of his injuries. But it does not show all that led up to that moment, in which 51-year-old Cle Sloan was also injured.
Lt. John Corina, a sheriff’s homicide detective, has said investigators believe Knight intentionally struck the men and that he was not acting out of a reasonable fear.
Corina previously said Knight had gotten into an argument at a film shoot and was told to leave. Corina said the argument started back up about 20 minutes later at Tam’s, about three miles away.
Fletcher disputed those statements, saying there was no movie shoot and no earlier argument. Instead, he said, Carter and two other men called Knight and told him to meet them at the burger stand.
TMZ reported that rapper Dr. Dre was filming footage at Tam’s for a promotional video for “Straight Outta Compton” a biopic of the groundbreaking Compton rap group N.W.A.
Fletcher said he believed the three were “active gang members” and questioned why they brought a gun if they only wanted to share a meal.
When questioned why his client didn’t drive around rather than over Carter, Fletcher answered that “the law in California is crystal clear” and said his client was entitled to do what he needed to do “to get away from people who (were) attacking” him.
He said Knight could be seen in the video holding his hands up.
“I’m very, very comfortable with the truth,” Fletcher said. “The truth is in the video.”
Knight is also accused, along with comedian Micah “Katt” Williams, with stealing a camera from a paparazzo in Beverly Hills on Sept. 5. A preliminary hearing date is scheduled to be set on April 8 in that case. Attorney David Kenner remains Knight’s attorney on that case.
Knight served five years in prison for assault and federal weapons violations and, after his release in 2001, spent another 10 months behind bars for violating parole by hitting a Hollywood nightclub valet.
— City News Service