Suge Knight pleads to manslaughter over fatal confrontation

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LOS ANGELES — Former rap mogul Marion “Suge” Knight pleaded no contest Thursday to voluntary manslaughter for running over and killing a Compton businessman nearly four years ago and agreed to serve nearly 30 years in prison.

The Death Row Records co-founder entered the plea in Los Angeles Superior Court and has agreed to serve 28 years in prison. The plea came days before jury selection was scheduled to begin in the long-delayed case.

Knight was charged with murder, attempted murder and hit-and-run after fleeing the scene of an altercation in January 2015 outside a Compton burger stand. Knight and Cle “Bone” Sloan, a consultant on the N.W.A. biopic “Straight Outta Compton” were involved in a fistfight that ended with Knight clipping the man with his pickup truck and running over businessman Terry Carter, who died from his injuries.

Knight’s attorneys have said he was acting in self-defense and was fleeing armed attackers when he ran over Carter and Sloan. Sloan has denied he was carrying a gun during the confrontation.

During Thursday’s hearing, Knight answered Judge Ronald Coen’s questions, loudly and quickly saying “no contest” when the judge asked for his plea. He will be formally sentenced on Oct. 4.

The plea deal calls for Knight to serve 22 years in prison on the voluntary manslaughter count, and another six years because it is a third strike violation.

Carter’s daughter, Crystal, sat in the front row of the courtroom and displayed no visible reaction to the proceedings. “I’m surprised he pleaded out,” Crystal Carter said outside court. “Normally he likes the cameras to be on him 24-7.”

Delays, detours and drama marked the run-up to Knight’s trial, which was expected to begin Oct. 1 under tight security and secrecy. Court officials had said that no witness list would be released ahead of the trial, and that some witnesses might not be identified by name during the case.

Knight collapsed during one court hearing, two of his former attorneys were indicted on witness-tampering charges, and his fiancee pleaded no contest to selling video of Knight hitting the two men with his truck.

His attorney Albert DeBlanc Jr., appointed by the court five months ago, was his 16th, and Knight tried to fire him and get yet another lawyer just a day before the deal was reached. DeBlanc declined comment Thursday.

While awaiting trial, Knight was also accused of threatening “Straight Outta Compton” director F. Gary Gray.

Knight would frequently, against the advice of Coen and his attorneys, speak extensively during hearings, complaining about jail conditions, his attorneys and his health issues.

While Coen read legal language about the plea and told Knight he was subject to deportation if he was not a citizen, Knight said “ICE is coming to get me?” to a smattering of laughs.

The 53-year-old was a key player in the gangster rap scene that flourished in the 1990s, and his label once listed Dr. Dre, Tupac Shakur and Snoop Dogg among its artists. Knight lost control of the company after it was forced into bankruptcy. He has prior felony convictions for armed robbery and assault with a gun. He pleaded no contest in 1995 and was sentenced to five years’ probation for assaulting two rap entertainers at a Hollywood recording studio in 1992.

He was sentenced in February 1997 to prison for violating terms of that probation by taking part in a fight at a Las Vegas hotel hours before Shakur was fatally wounded in a drive-by attack as he rode in Knight’s car just east of the Las Vegas Strip. Shakur’s slaying remains unsolved.

He had faced life in prison if convicted of murder for killing Carter.

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Death Row Inmate Who Brutally Murdered His Son, Ripped Out His Own Eye And Ate It May Get Appeal!

Andre Thomas, 35, recently gouged out his only remaining eye and ate it in a mental outburst. His attorneys are attempting to ague to a federal appeals court that his mental state should bar him from the death penalty.

In 2004, Thomas was convicted of killing 13-month-old Leyha Marie Hughes, his estranged wife’s daughter, as well as his estranged wife, Laura Christine Boren, and their 4-year-old, Andre Lee, reported the Associated Press.

Thomas stabbed the victims and ripped out their hearts.

Thomas stabbed himself a few times before going to the Sherman Police Department and confessing to the killing.

He claimed God told him to commit the killings.

When Thomas was first jailed for the killings, he pulled out one of his eyes, yet a judge still ruled him competent for trial. Then in 2009, while on death row, he removed his remaining eye and told prison officials he ate it.

Thomas now serves time at a prison psychiatric unit.

Although a federal judge rejected an appeal from Thomas and his attorneys in 2016, they took their case to the New Orleans-based 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, who heard their oral arguments for appeal on Tuesday.

In written filings before the arguments, attorney Catherine M.A. Carroll argued Thomas’ mental illness went undiagnosed and untreated “until after the delusions it caused led him to commit the crime here.”

The Herald Democrat reported Carroll argued for about 30 minutes Tuesday for Thomas’ appeal. Thomas’ case for appeal is ongoing.

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