Incarcerated rap mogul Suge Knight made a plea deal to spend the next 28 years in prison.
Knight pled no contest to voluntary manslaughter. He would have faced murder and attempted murder charges, the Los Angeles Times reported. The plea deal also means two other charges against Knight are dropped. He was previously indicted for threatening “Straight Outta Compton” director F. Gary Gray. In the second case, he was charged with stealing a woman’s camera.
The former Death Row Records CEO turned himself in to authorities in 2015, after he drove a truck into two men, killing one on Jan. 29 of that same year. At the time, he had fled the scene in his truck. The incident occurred after Knight paid a visit to the set where a commercial for the “Straight Outta Compton” movie was being filmed.
Knight’s plea came four days before his trial was scheduled to start. As for why Knight would choose a plea in which the 45-year-old will remain in prison until he is 81, criminal defense attorney Peter Johnson said the trial could be even more damaging. He mentioned that in the weeks leading up to a trial, prosecutors give the defense a list of witnesses that will be called on to testify.
“You can pretty much predict the testimony and how damaging that will be and you weigh the risks of conviction,” Johnson said, via the Los Angeles Times.
Knight was facing life in prison. The prosecution was in possession of surveillance footage from Tam’s Burgers, the restaurant near where the incident occurred. That footage would have likely shown up at trial, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Knight has said he was fleeing for his life when he hit the men, because there were others with guns at the scene. He also said that a $20,000 hitman hired by his former business partner, Dr. Dre, was on the scene.
“The only way they’d win is if the jury believed Suge Knight, which is a tall order,” said Los Angeles criminal defense attorney R.J. Manuelian, via the Los Angeles Times. Manuelian said Knight’s lawyers don’t have a reliable witness to prove Knight’s life was in danger.
Is this Suge Knight’s end?
Suge Knight formed Death Row Records with Dr. Dre in the early 1990’s. Dr. Dre has since sought to sue Death Row Records for millions in unpaid royalties, Pigeons and Planes reported. Knight was also the driver of the BMW rapper Tupac Shakur was in when Shakur was fatally shot, according to the LA Times.
Suge Knight’s son reacted to his father’s ordeal recently, expressing concern for his father’s health in jail.
“With all those health issues, I’m very worried about my father, I’m going to be honest. He’s a strong dude, but he’s human,” said Suge Jacob Knight, via TMZ. “His diabetes, his health, he needs attentive care all of the time.”
Suge Jacob Knight was still hopeful his father would survive and have options.
The rap world had mixed reactions to the ruling. Former Death Row Records artist Daz Dillinger said via Instagram that the plea deal marks the end of Suge Knight, and celebrated the ruling. He also had a message for Suge Jacob Knight.
“They wondered how the Suge Knight story was going to end. It ended yesterday,” said Dillinger in the video post. “Shout out to Suge Knight Jr. Go visit your daddy. He needs you.”