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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New Jersey man, 47, pleads guilty to killing his 64-year-old mother two DAYS after finishing a 30-year murder sentence for murdering a neighbor!

• Steven Pratt pleaded guilty to manslaughter for killing Gwendolyn Pratt, 64, at their Atlantic City home in October 2014

• An autopsy found that she died from massive blunt-force head injuries

• Pratt was 15 when he shot and killed his next-door neighbor Michael Anderson in an apartment building in 1984

• He was tried as an adult and was convicted of murder in 1986

A man pleaded guilty on Wednesday to killing his mother two days after he completed a 30-year prison sentence for killing a neighbor.

Steven Pratt pleaded guilty to manslaughter for killing Gwendolyn Pratt, 64, at their Atlantic City home in October 2014.

An autopsy found that she died from massive blunt-force head injuries.

Killing: Steven Pratt (seen left in October 2014) pleaded guilty to manslaughter for killing Gwendolyn Pratt (right) at their Atlantic City home in October 2014

According to an October 2014 story from Philly.com, Gwendolyn Pratt had recently hosted a welcome-home party for her son.

Gwendolyn Pratt’s brother told the news outlet his sister had been a Resorts Casino Hotel worker going back to 1989.

Her sibling also revealed that upon Steven Pratt’s release from prison, Gwendolyn Pratt took him to an IHOP restaurant.

In October 2014, Pratt told a judge through tears after killing his mother that he was guilty and didn’t want a trial.

In a video filmed at the time by the Press of Atlantic City, the judge told Pratt: ‘Now sir, you have a lawyer? Or you may use a public defender.’

Pratt told the judge: ‘I have nobody.’

The judge also asked Pratt if he knew about the bail amount.

Pratt at the time replied: ‘It doesn’t even matter, sir.’

Sobbing, Pratt said at one point during the arraignment: ‘I’m sorry. I have failed.’

Pratt was 15 when he shot and killed his next-door neighbor in 1984. He was tried as an adult and was convicted of murder in 1986

Steven Pratt, 47, must serve 85 percent of a 25-year prison sentence before he’ll be eligible for parole.

Pratt was 15 when he shot and killed his next-door neighbor Michael Anderson in an apartment building in 1984. He was tried as an adult and was convicted of murder in 1986.

According to court records, Pratt and Anderson argued after Pratt and some of his friends refused to leave an apartment hallway where they were noisily hanging out.

Pratt went back to Anderson’s apartment with a lead pipe, but Anderson took the pipe away from Pratt and bloodied his face, the records show.

Pratt then returned with a borrowed handgun and shot Anderson in the face and shoulder, the court records show. Anderson, who Pratt said acted like a father to him, died days after the shooting.

Steven and Gwendolyn Pratt’s Atlantic City, New Jersey, home is seen on the right in this file photograph.

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How jewelry robbery could land Syracuse man in prison for the rest of his life!

Theodore Robinson(Provided photo)

By Douglass Dowty

ddowty@syracuse.com

Syracuse, NY — A Syracuse man who was convicted after trial of robbing a woman of jewelry at a Salvation Army women’s shelter could spend the rest of his life in prison.

Theodore Robinson, 57, got the unusually long sentence because of his 40-year criminal history. Previous crimes — in New York City — included three other robberies and a manslaughter, County Court Judge Stephen Dougherty said today.

That made Robinson eligible for a relatively rare designation as a persistent felony offender: that is, convicted of his third felony.

But many criminals have three or more felonies on their record. Why did Robinson get treated more harshly?

For one, the law requires that the felonies be spread out over a period of years. In other words, a crime spree that leads to a bunch of felonies in a short period doesn’t count.

Second, the previous felonies must have each led to more than a year of prison. In other words, a persistent felony offender must serve prison time, get out and commit more crimes, go back to prison, get out a second time and commit even more crimes that warrant a third prison term.

Third, judges can decide against persistent felony status for criminals who fit those circumstances. In fact, the law requires the judge to lay out reasons for designating a persistent felon.

So what does persistent felon mean?

Persistent felons face the same sentence as a convicted murderer. In Robinson’s case, he faced 3 1/2 to 7 years in prison for the robbery at the homeless shelter.

But he was sentenced by Dougherty today to 15 years to life in prison.

Dougherty laid out Robinson’s history, which included a 1981 manslaughter conviction in the Bronx, as well as three other robbery convictions.

In fact, Robinson had been out of prison for only 17 years out of the past four decades, prosecutor Anthony Copani said.

His parole had been revoked five times since 2002, the judge said.

During the February 2017 robbery, Robinson attacked a woman at a shelter located at 1704 S. Salina St. The woman, who was helping women at the shelter, said the robbery took away her sense of safety.

Robinson later blamed the robbery on drug and alcohol use, but the judge noted video showing Robinson examining the jewelry to see if it was real after the robbery.

There was an accusation that Robinson pulled what looked like a gun during the robbery, but a jury did not find him guilty of that crime.

Defense lawyer Eric Jeschke argued that the judge should not have ruled Robinson a persistent felony offender, noting that a previous plea offer did not include such a provision.

But the judge replied that plea agreements are a way to settle a case, not necessarily to provide the punishment that someone deserves.

For his part, Robinson said he feared he was going to prison for the rest of his life.

“I know my history does not paint a good picture at all,” he said. “In no way am I a monster.”

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