A judge has ruled that music mogul Marion “Suge” Knight should stand trial for murder despite the fact that a key witness – one of the men he is accused of running over – refused to identify him in court.
Cle “Bone” Sloan told detectives it was Knight who ran over him and another man outside a Compton burger stand in January, killing the other man and seriously injuring Sloan. But when Sloan later testified about the incident at Knight’s preliminary hearing in April, he refused to say Knight ran him over.
Knight’s lawyer Thomas Mesereau said the judge in Los Angeles should reject Sloan’s testimony because his changing story showed he was not credible.
But Superior Court Judge Stephen Marcus said he could not evaluate the credibility of witnesses at a preliminary hearing. The judge noted: “He doesn’t say that it’s not him.”
He also cited evidence that Sloan and Knight had bad blood between them for years, calling the fight that led to the fatal confrontation part of an ongoing “soap opera” between the men.
“The only person who had a motive was Suge Knight,” the judge said.
Sloan told detectives he repeatedly punched Knight through the window of his truck moments before he was run over. After running over Sloan, Knight ran over and killed Terry Carter, 55, investigators said.
Knight’s lawyers have said their client was ambushed and fleeing an attack when he ran over the men.
Mr Mesereau said after the hearing that the case was in its early stages and he would not comment further.
Knight is being held on $10m bail, which Mr Mesereau said he would seek to have reduced.
Knight was a key player in the gangster rap scene that flourished in the 1990s, and his Death Row Records label once listed Dr Dre, Tupac Shakur and Snoop Dogg among its artists. He lost control of the company after it was forced into bankruptcy.
Knight has prior convictions for armed robbery and assault with a gun. He was driving the car when Shakur was shot and killed in Las Vegas, a crime that has gone unsolved.