Attorneys representing relatives of a man run over and killed by Marion “Suge” Knight with a pickup truck in Compton in 2015 are asking a judge to keep the imprisoned former rap mogul out of the courtroom during the upcoming trial of the civil suit filed by the victim’s relatives.
“After seven years of litigation, plaintiffs’ personal injury action is finally on the eve of trial,” lawyers for family members of the late Terry Carter state in court papers filed Friday with Compton Superior Court Judge Thomas Long ahead of the scheduled March 7 trial. Knight, now 56, pleaded no contest in September 2018 to voluntary manslaughter for killing the 55-year-old Carter after an argument near a promotional shoot for the movie “Straight Outta Compton” on Jan. 29, 2015. Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Ronald Coen sentenced him to 28 years in prison a month after his plea.
Knight also admitted an allegation that he used a deadly weapon — a truck — during the commission of the crime in the parking lot of Tam’s Burgers in the 1200 block of West Rosecrans Avenue. A replica of the business was featured during the Super Bowl halftime show on Sunday at SoFi Stadium. The plaintiffs in the civil suit, filed in June 2015, are Carter’s widow, Lillian, and daughters Crystal and Nekaya.
“(Knight) does not have the right to be present in trial if his interests are adequately represented,” the Carter attorneys state in their court papers. “That is being done with representation by (Knight attorney) Mr. David Kenner.” Knight and Kenner have not cited any statute that “dictates the procedural lever for defendant Knight to be brought out of incarceration for this civil trial,” according to the court papers of the Carter lawyers, who further argue that he should be prevented from testifying because he refused to participate in pre-trial discovery.
The Carter attorneys maintain in their court papers that it is up to the trial judge in a civil case whether an incarcerated defendant should be present in the courtroom during trial. They also say that Knight and Kenner are wrongly citing the Penal Code to justify their call for the producer’s attendance because the code would only apply if Knight was involved in another criminal case. In another argument, the Carter lawyers state that Knight should be precluded from arguing, testifying, eliciting or introducing any evidence that Knight’s liability in Carter’s death is disputed because he pleaded no contest in the man’s killing. The Carter attorneys maintain the plea was an “implied confession.”
Knight also struck and seriously injured Cle “Bone” Sloan during the confrontation, which was captured on surveillance video. Knight had claimed he was trying to flee the scene in his truck and contended that Sloan, who was working security for the film set, had a gun. Knight, a Compton-born former football player, co-founded Death Row Records, which in its heyday in the early 1990s was generating revenues of about $100 million per year. He helped launch some of rap’s biggest acts, including Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg and Tupac Shakur. He was with Shakur the night he was gunned down in 1996.
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. In August 2014, he was shot a half-dozen times at a Los Angeles-area nightclub.