DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – Death Row Records co-founder Marion “Suge” Knight was sentenced Thursday to 28 years in state prison for running a man down and killing him with a pickup truck in the parking lot of a Compton hamburger stand in 2015.
Knight, 53, had previously plead no contest to voluntary manslaughter charges on Sept. 20 in Los Angeles County Superior Court as part of a deal which saw prosecutors drop murder charges against him.
The plea came days before his long-awaited trial was set to begin Oct 1. Knight had been initially charged with murder, attempted murder and hit-and-run for using a pickup truck to run down 55-year-old Terry Carter and Cle “Bone” Sloan in the parking lot of Tam’s Burgers in the 1200 block of West Rosecrans Avenue on Jan. 29, 2015. Carter died and Sloan survived his serious injuries.
He also admitted an allegation that he used a deadly weapon, a truck, during the commission of the crime.
“Your unrepentant, unremorseful, callous, unashamed actions took my dad’s life away,” Carter’s daughter told Knight at Thursday’s sentencing hearing.
The fatal confrontation, which was captured on dramatic surveillance video, occurred near a filming set for a promotional video for the movie “Straight Outta Compton.”
Knight had claimed he was trying to flee the scene in his truck, contending that Sloan, who was working security for the film set, was armed with a gun.
In a letter read by Carter’s sister, Carter’s widow wrote that the two, who had been married for 29 years, “expected to grow old with one another.”
“It’s been three years and it’s not any easier… This is a nightmare, one that I cannot wake up from,” she said.
Outside court, Carter’s widow said, “I really don’t want him (Knight) to ever leave jail.”
Knight did not speak during the sentencing, other than to waive his presence at a Dec. 10 hearing to determine how much restitution he will have to pay. He wore a cross around his neck and looked straight ahead as statements were read. He briefly looked at Carter’s family as he was led out in handcuffs following the sentencing.
“There’s consequences for everything that we do, and he reacted inappropriately,” Carter’s brother-in-law Dwight Haskell told reporters following the hearing. “And as a result, he’s going to spend the rest of his life behind bars listening to steel doors slamming shut all night, all day.”
The plea deal also saw the dismissal of a pair of other pending cases in which he was charged with robbery involving the alleged theft of a camera from a female paparazzo whom Knight accused of taking photos of his son in September 2014, and alleged criminal threats against F. Gary Gray, the director of “Straight Outta Compton,” in August 2014.
In January, two of Knight’s attorneys were arrested on charges that they tried to pay off potential witnesses in his murder case.
Delays, detours and drama marked the run-up to Knight’s trial, which was under tight security and secrecy. Court officials had said that no witness list would be released ahead of the trial, and that some witnesses might not be identified by name during the case.
Knight, a Compton native and 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.
(© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)