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Friday, December 8, 2023 | Back issues
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Suge Knight Says Jailers are Hurting His Defense

LOS ANGELES (CN) - Former rap impresario Marion "Suge" Knight complained at length Thursday about conditions in jail, telling a judge that a jailhouse informant had been given access to a murder case file and that jailers are preventing him from talking to his attorney.

For more than 10 minutes, Knight outlined a laundry list of grievances, but before he began made sure to let Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Ronald Coen know that his beef is not with him.

"I think you should run for president," Knight told Coen.

In court papers filed earlier this month, Knight's attorney Thaddeus Culpepper was less magnanimous.

On March 17, 2015, Coen entered a court order that restricts Knight from making calls, sending mail and receiving visitors. Judge William Ryan signed an order on Jan. 29 this year terminating Knight's privileges.

In an April 1 filing, Culpepper wrote that Coen had violated Knight's constitutional rights by signing last year's order under the Sheriff's Department's direction and that it should not have been filed under seal.

Knight is accused of murdering Terry Carter and critically injuring Cle Denyale "Bone" Sloan, who had worked as an adviser on the N.W.A. biopic "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 has pleaded not guilty to the murder and attempted murder charges.

The Death Row Records CEO told Coen at the morning hearing that a jailhouse informant named Danny Timms obtained his murder book and had shown it to Knight.

"I read my murder book, my discovery," Knight said, questioning how the alleged informant had got hold of his murder case file before his attorneys.

Culpepper's filing says that over seven months, officers placed Timms next to Knight to "screw" the former mogul and wanted Timms to "lie and state that Knight confessed that he intended to run over Carter."

The sheriff's department later stopped using Timms as an informant, according to Culpepper's filing.

Shackled and wearing an orange jail uniform, Knight talked about his health problems noting that he almost died when he was forced to have emergency appendix surgery earlier this year and had lost 65 pounds.

He also hit back at suggestions that he might be faking illness to try to escape custody, saying more than once that he had turned himself into authorities.

Knight added that he was only allowed to use a phone once a week, seriously hampering his ability to prepare for trial.

"It's slowing my process down to defend myself," Knight said.

Knight also took aim at his former attorneys, suggesting they are more interested in negotiating a deal for a documentary than representing him.

Since prosecutors charged Knight with murder he has been represented by five attorneys including James Blatt, David Kenner, Matthew Fletcher, and now Culpepper.

"I'm just fed up with people wanting to do books, documentaries and movies," Knight said.

Coen agreed to write a note to jailers making clear that Knight should be able to use the phone as he wishes to talk to his attorney. But the judge denied Knight's motion to unseal his orders.

At the afternoon court hearing in Ryan's courtroom, county prosecutor Cynthia Barnes told the judge he should sanction Culpepper for attaching to his motion exhibits of protective orders.

Barnes said called the April 1 filing "factually inaccurate" and "unfounded."

In the April 14 opposition, Barnes wrote: "The statement of facts, as well as the arguments in his motion, are simply a collection of false statements and nonsensical accusations."

Ryan said he would take the motion under submission. When Knight told the judge that he was only able to make calls once a week on the jailhouse roof, Ryan told Culpepper to submit proposed modified orders that would lift restrictions.

"I did not intend to restrict phone privileges to once a week on the roof," Ryan said.

He said that he would also consider lifting restrictions on visitations, after Culpepper told the judge that Knight had not seen his parents Maxine and Marion Sr. at the jail since January.

As Knight was led away at the morning hearing, a friend of the family said, "Happy birthday!" Knight turned 51 this week.

Outside the courtroom, Knight's mother Maxine told reporters that she was glad that the judge had allowed her son to talk about conditions in the jail and that she misses him.

Coen scheduled a pretrial hearing in the case for May 9.

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