The murder trial of former rap mogul Marion “Suge” Knight is likely to be postponed until early 2017, after his new legal representatives asked Monday for more time to prepare his defense.
Defense attorney J. Tooson told Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Ronald S. Coen that no experts have been hired and “there hasn’t been a single witness interviewed.”
He said it was “impossible” for his team to be ready for the currently scheduled Aug. 1 trial date, in part because witness lists provided by prosecutors were “heavily redacted.”
Coen warned that the court’s calendar was already booked up until January or February of next year, but said he wouldn’t object to a postponement and scheduled a July 6 pretrial/ trial-setting hearing.
Tooson also asked that Knight be allowed to see a doctor, telling the judge that the last time he visited with his 51-year-old client, Knight “became lightheaded, felt like he was going to pass out.”
Knight — who has been plagued by health problems in jail while awaiting trial and underwent an emergency appendectomy in March — was told a doctor wasn’t available on that day and hasn’t seen one since, according to Tooson.
Coen ordered a medical visit.
Outside the courtroom, Tooson said not all, but the majority of witness names were blacked out on the discovery documents provided by the prosecution team.
“That’s going to be litigated” on July 6, he said.
When questioned about the redacted documents, Deputy District Attorney Cynthia Barnes declined to comment.
Tooson and his firm — Lessem, Newstat & Tooson — are representing Knight on murder, attempted murder and hit-and-run charges for allegedly killing 55-year-old Terry Carter and injuring Cle “Bone” Sloan on Jan. 29, 2015, in the parking lot of Tam’s Burgers in the 1200 block of West Rosecrans Avenue.
“We strongly caution anyone from rushing to judgment in this case based on Mr. Knight’s past,” Tooson said when he took the case earlier this month, the latest in a series of defense team changes.
“We believe the evidence will show that on the day in question, Mr. Knight was ambushed by several perpetrators armed with firearms,” Tooson said. “While under attack, Mr. Knight attempted to flee for his life.”
Tooson and his firm replaced attorney Thaddeus Culpepper, who for now remains counsel of record for a robbery case in which Knight and comedian Micah “Katt” Williams, are accused of taking a camera from a female paparazzi in September 2014. A hearing in that case is set for June 21.
Knight’s phone and visitor privileges in jail have been restricted due to a court order that was issued under seal. Culpepper’s motion seeking to appeal that court order drew a rebuke from another judge who implied Culpepper’s statements bordered on contempt.
When asked today how he felt about having his next pretrial date moved to July 6, Knight seemed to misunderstand the judge.
“I’m doing better, your honor, thanks for asking,” Knight said.
When the judge clarified his question, one of the defense attorneys explained that Knight had had “a rough morning.”
Tooson declined to go into detail about the particulars.
—Staff and wire reports