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Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism University of Southern California
Southern California

Suge Knight Pleads Not Guilty

Marion "Suge" Knight was arragined in Compton Tuesday after striking two men with his truck, killing one last Thursday. Marc Sallinger reports.

Marion “Suge” Knight, 49, pleaded not guilty today to all charges stemming from a fatal hit-and-run committed in Compton, Calif. last week.

The rap mogul, who appeared at the Compton Courthouse this morning, denied the murder, attempted murder and hit-and-run charges that the L.A. County District Attorney’s Office filed Monday.

During the hearing, Knight appeared calm and collected, politely addressing the judge’s questions. Afterwards, he collapsed and was rushed to the hospital, where he was undergoing “treatment and evaluation,” the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department said.

He is accused of deliberately running over Terry Carter, 55, and Cle “Bone” Sloan, 51, in the parking lot of a Compton restaurant on Thursday afternoon, after an argument on the set of the movie Straight Out of Compton. Carter died as a result, while Sloan was hospitalized for his injuries.

Knight’s lawyer, David Kenner said that his client did not hit the victims on purpose. Rather, he was in fear for his life and was trying to escape when the accident happened. “A person he knew is deceased, but it wasn’t his fault,” Kenner said.

Kenner said that he hadn’t yet reviewed the prosecution’s evidence, including any video footage that may be included of the incident.

Sloan’s lawyer, Michael R. Shapiro, who attended the hearing, said that his client is still “processing” what happened. “He’s not going to walk for a long time,” Shapiro said. Shapiro also mentioned the possibility of a civil lawsuit against Knight, for Sloan's injuries.

A conviction in this case could mean a third strike for Knight, which could result in a life sentence. Yesterday, a court commissioner revoked Knight’s $2 million bail because of this three-strikes candidacy and on the grounds that he was a possible flight risk. Another bail hearing has been set for Feb. 9 at Kenner’s request. The preliminary hearing date is set for Feb. 19.

The original presiding judge, John J. Cheroske, recused himself from the case at the beginning of the arraignment, saying that he had represented both victims as a lawyer in the past. Judge Ricardo Ocampo took over for Cheroske and will preside over the remaining pre-trial hearings.

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