LOS ANGELES (CN) – Days ahead of a long-awaited trial on murder charges, embattled rap mogul Marion “Suge” Knight pleaded no contest Thursday to voluntary manslaughter stemming from a 2015 fatal hit and run.
As part of a plea deal with prosecutors, Knight will serve 28 years in prison.
Knight, 53, has been in the Los Angeles County jail on suspicion of killing Terry Carter, 55, and injuring Cle “Bone” Sloan with his truck in a Compton parking lot in January 2015. Knight, the former producer and founder of gangsta rap label Death Row Records, said he struck Carter because feared for his life and his former attorneys have said someone approached Knight in the parking lot with a gun.
On Thursday, Knight gave one-word answers as Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Ronald Coen read through the charges and asked if Knight understood what it meant to waive his rights to a jury trial.
When Coen asked for his plea on the voluntary manslaughter charge Knight said, “No contest.”
The charge carries an 11-year sentence, far less than the life sentence he faced if convicted of the murder charge. However, because Knight has prior convictions the sentence is doubled under California’s Three Strikes Law.
An additional five years will be added to his sentence because the conviction is for a serious and violent felony, and another year will be tacked on for the deadly weapon allegation. He will be sentenced Oct. 4.
As Coen read through the standard form and told Knight he would be subject to deportation if he is not a citizen, Knight asked, “ICE is coming to get me?”
Two other criminal trials that have been delayed pending the murder trial will not happen, as the charges have been dismissed as part of the plea deal. Knight faced charges of stealing a woman’s camera in 2014, and a grand jury indicted him in 2017 on charges of threatening the director of the movie “Straight Outta Compton” which portrayed the rise of gangsta rap in Los Angeles in the 1980s.
Knight’s attorney, Albert DeBlanc Jr., said the plea deal was a negotiated settlement.
“It was in the best interest of my client,” DeBlanc said as he walked out of the courtroom. He did not offer further comment.
Knight’s 16th attorney, DeBlanc survived being fired on Wednesday after Coen denied Knight’s request to replace him. According to Knight, DeBlanc was overwhelmed by the case and they had only met a few times to discuss it.
“You’ve fired 15 lawyers. I have to tell you Albert DeBlanc is the best you can get,” Coen told Knight.
Jury selection in the murder trial was set to begin Sept. 24, and the news show “Dateline NBC” planned to record the trial.
The LA County District Attorney’s Office offered no comment on the plea deal as of press time.
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