Suge Knight arrested for murder after repeatedly running victim over with his car

SugeKnight

By The New York Times

Marion Knight, the former chief executive of Death Row Records, who is better known as Suge, was arrested in West Hollywood on Friday on suspicion of murder after the authorities said the vehicle he was driving struck two men in the parking lot of a fast-food restaurant.

One of the men died, and the second was hospitalized, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department said.

The incident is the latest in a long line of violent brushes with the law by Mr. Knight, 49, the former hip-hop mogul who helped usher Tupac Shakur, Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg into the mainstream, sometimes using brute force and building up his own myth along the way.

While the details of the latest incident are being investigated, a sheriff’s department spokeswoman, Sgt. Diane Hecht, said that Mr. Knight became involved in an argument on Thursday at 3 p.m. with several men who were working on a movie in Compton, Calif., where Mr. Knight and Death Row made their name.

Shortly after, the authorities said, the dispute moved from the film set for “Straight Outta Compton,” a biopic about the trailblazing rap group N.W.A., to the nearby parking lot of Tam’s Burgers, where Mr. Knight put his red Ford F-150 truck in reverse and struck two people who had been standing behind the vehicle.

Mr. Knight then drove away, hitting the men again, the sheriff’s department said.

About 10 hours later, after the sheriff’s department had issued an alert that investigators were seeking to question him, Mr. Knight — accompanied by a lawyer — drove to a sheriff’s department station in West Hollywood to turn himself in.

A video showed Mr. Knight smoking a cigar, laughing and waving to cameras as he approached the station. Before reaching the entrance, Mr. Knight, in sunglasses at night, placed the end of his cigar on a tree branch. “When I get out, I can always smoke it,” he said.

At 3 a.m. — after about two hours of questioning — he was placed under arrest and charged with murder, Sgt. Hecht said. He is being held in lieu of $2 million bail.

James Blatt, Mr. Knight’s lawyer, called the event an accident that occurred when Mr. Knight tried to escape from an attack by four men who were trying to grab him through the driver’s side window. “Because he was in fear for his life, he accelerated and made his escape,” Mr. Blatt said. “He did not have any knowledge that he hit anyone.”

While the sheriff’s department has not yet identified the victims, Mr. Blatt said the deceased was Terry Carter, a friend of Mr. Knight’s, who was in “the wrong place at the wrong time.”

Mr. Knight “will be exonerated,” the lawyer said, urging any witnesses or those with video of the incident to come forward.

While Mr. Knight’s reputation for intimidation tactics remains, his days as an influential, cigar-chomping music mogul are long gone.

A former high school football star who played briefly in the N.F.L. and once worked as a bodyguard for the singer Bobby Brown, Mr. Knight helped found Death Row Records in the early 1990s and became one of the faces of gangster rap. The label released a series of highly successful albums that came to define rap music.

But while trouble was integral to Death Row’s outlaw image — Mr. Knight, at 6 feet 4 inches and more than 300 pounds, was said to have gotten Dr. Dre out of a bad record deal with the help of a baseball bat — it also contributed to the business’s unraveling.

Mr. Knight served nearly five years in jail for violating probation during a 1996 fight at a Las Vegas hotel. Hours after that fight, Mr. Shakur was fatally shot while riding in Mr. Knight’s car.

Ten years after that murder, still unsolved, Mr. Knight filed for bankruptcy, and in 2007, he put his Malibu mansion on sale. Death Row Records was later sold at auction for $18 million.

In August, Mr. Knight was shot several times at a nightclub party in Los Angeles celebrating the MTV Video Music Awards. In November, he pleaded not guilty to a charge of stealing a photographer’s camera in Beverly Hills.

He has prior felony convictions for armed robbery and assault with a gun and pleaded no contest in 1995 and was sentenced to five years’ probation for assaulting two rappers at a Hollywood recording studio in 1992.

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