LOS ANGELES (CN) – Former rap impresario Marion “Suge” Knight told a judge Wednesday that jailhouse limits are interfering with his ability to defend himself against murder charges, and that jailers grant greater access to attorneys representing cop killers and child murderers.
Knight has launched into tirades about jailhouse conditions before, complaining he was denied access to medical treatment, attorneys and his family members, including his children. Unusually, the judge presiding over the murder case, Judge Ronald Coen, is not handling the 51-year-old’s grievances. That task has been handed to Judge William Ryan, who upheld some of the restrictions this past year.
But on Wednesday, Knight lamented his treatment at a pretrial hearing as his father Marion Sr., mother Maxine and son Suge Jacob Knight watched from the gallery. This was the first time Knight had seen his 21-year-old son in two years, since jailers will not allow him to visit his father in jail.
Knight, who was wearing an orange jail uniform, called the prohibitions on his son and other family members "cruel" and "unusual." Cop killers are “treated like kings" and child murderers are given more face time with their attorneys, he said. Unlike other inmates, he is not allowed to see his attorneys on weekends, he added.
“I just want a fair trial and I trust you to give me a fair trial,’ Knight said to Coen.
Knight's defense attorney Jeremy Lessem told Coen he sometimes faces roadblocks when he visits Knight because jailers are unaware of court orders or do not have the personnel to bring his client down from his cell.
“I do think there are some impediments that don’t normally exist,” Lessem said.
After the hearing, his son Suge Jacob Knight said his father is being treated unfairly. The last time he saw Knight was when he left for school in Nashville, Tennessee. He traveled from Arizona to attend the morning hearing.
"The only thing I can do is just give him a nod and say that I'm here,” he said. “He looked at me and I'm like, I don't want you to get in trouble, I just want to stay in here and keep seeing you. So, I just gave him a nod. I love him.”
After the hearing, Lessem said that sheriff department's declarations to Ryan were filed under seal, making it difficult for Knight’s legal team to understand why he is facing the strict limits. Jailers say they need the restrictions to preserve jail security.
“When you're sitting in jail and facing murder charges and not being able to have visitation from your adult children, that's demoralizing. It makes life much harder, and without getting too patriotic, he's innocent until proven guilty and he certainly doesn't feel like he's being treated that way. And I would tend to agree with that,” Lessem said.
Knight has been behind bars since early 2015, after prosecutors charged him in the murder of Terry Carter and attempted murder of Cle Denyale “Bone” Sloan, who had worked as an adviser on the biopic about gangster rap group N.W.A., “Straight Outta Compton.”
County prosecutors say Knight ran over the two men with his pickup in the parking lot of Compton restaurant Tam's Burgers on Jan. 29, 2015, after an altercation with Sloan.
Knight, the former CEO of Death Row Records, has pleaded not guilty to murder and attempted murder charges. He says he was acting in self-defense after Sloan approached him at the window of his vehicle. He says video evidence shows that Sloan was armed.
Sloan was critically injured in the incident, which occurred after Knight showed up to a promotional shoot for “Straight Outta Compton.” Rappers Dr. Dre and Ice Cube were in the area filming a promo for the summer box office hit.
Knight is expected back in court for another pretrial hearing on March 27. If convicted, he faces a life sentence in state prison.
The Los Angeles County Sheriff Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.