[M]arion “Suge” Knight is in the biggest predicament of his unpredictable life. The 49-year-old once presided over Death Row Records, a mighty, $100 million a year empire.
The label flourished with artists like Snoop Dogg, Tupac Shakur and former co-owner, Dr. Dre.
|Marion “Suge” Knight. At one point, Death Row Records held the attention of America, with artists like Tupac, Snoop Dogg and others.|
Death Row’s rapid decline came about after Dr. Dre’s departure and Knight’s constant clashes with the law. Dr. Dre went on to form Aftermath Entertainment and signed Eminem, 50 Cent, Game and a host of other influential acts. And, of course, Beats By Dre.
Suge did not achieve much, given the possibilities. The unsolved shooting death of Tupac Shakur in Las Vegas in 1996 was a major catastrophe for the world as well as the label. Snoop Dogg left Death Row for Master P’s No Limit Records in 1997 and hasn’t looked back.
|Da Game Is To Be Sold Not Told on Master P’s No Limit Records, was Snoop’s first album off of Death Row Records.|
That same year, Suge Knight was sentenced to nine years in the penitentiary for violating his probation, for joining in the attack at the MGM Grand that many speculate ultimately, led to Shakur’s death. After his release from prison in 2001, two years later, Knight was sent back to prison, for striking a parking lot attendant during a dispute in Los Angeles.
In addition to the jail bids, a $107 million default judgment against Knight over the contested ownership of Death Row Records helped drive the label into bankruptcy, in 2006. Knight’s frequent confrontations with artists, gang-members, and even the paparazzi has culminated in a murder charge, after a hit-and-run incident in Compton, in January of 2015.
There was an altercation on the set of a commercial being filmed for the movie “Straight Outta Compton.”
An alleged scuffle broke out between Knight and another man, according to his attorney David Kenner. Knight claims he panicked and put his F-150 into reverse, knocking the man to the ground. He then pulled forward and struck another man.
Ironically, Knight’s friend Terry Carter, 55, died from a massive head injury while Ice Cube’s business partner/actor Cle “Bone” Sloan was left severely injured.
Knight surrendered and has pleaded not guilty to one charge of murder and attempted murder and two counts of hit-and-run.
[S]uge Knight is presently being held on $25 million bail after being deemed a flight risk, in addition to a three-strike law candidate.
“He has been put on remand status where the court has reasoned that he is too much of a flight risk and the cases are too serious for him to get an opportunity to make bail,” attorney Kenneth Montgomery explained to CollegeHipHop.com. “The three-strikes law also increases your exposure to jail time.”
|Brooklyn-based lawyer Kenneth Montgomery has defended hundreds of people accused of serious crimes, including a number of rappers.|
Montgomery, an adjunct professor of Trial Advocacy at Fordham Law School, knows these types of cases very well. He is a criminal defense, civil rights attorney, who represents clients charged with the most serious crimes.
Most recently, Montgomery’s firm represented the family of Akai Gurley, who was killed by a rookie NYPD cop, as well as rapper Bobby Schmurda, who faces 25-to-life for gun charges.
Baltimore-based attorney Paul Gardner firm Gardner Law Group has represented the likes of rappers Los, Young City (Choppa) and Outkast. He offered further clarity into Suge Knight’s legal quandary.
“In this specific case, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department successfully petitioned the county bail commissioner to revoke Knight’s bail, due to several factors,” attorney Paul Gardner explained. “The commissioner sided with the Sheriff and revoked Knight’s bail. However, even if the commissioner did not revoke Knight’s bail – the bail bond company can revoke a bond too, not just the court. So, if the commissioner did not side with the Sheriff then the Sheriff could have gone to the bail bond company for a ‘second bite at the apple.'”
Everyone is “supposed to be” presumed innocent until proven guilty in the American justice system, but Knight’s criminal infamy has already hindered his ability to defend himself in other ways.
“It affects his ability to take the stand, and his public perception may impact a jury panel in a negative manner,” attorney Kenneth Montgomery noted.
However, Knight may have something working in his favor when it comes to the issue of jury selection for his trial.
“Unfortunately, most of these African-Americans will not make it to the jury, which is another discussion,” added attorney Paul Gardner. “Los Angeles County is only 8.8% African-American.”
|Attorney Paul Gardner offers up his take on Suge Knight’s future. It’s not looking too good for the 49-year-old mogul.|
Even if all of Suge Knight’s previous criminal activity was suppressed, his open criminal cases present a serious problem for his defense. He is also facing robbery charges for taking a paparazzi’s camera during an altercation in October of 2014. Those two charges alone carry a 25 years-to-life sentence for the mogul.
Knight’s lawyer, in that case, Richard Schonfeld, denied his client was attempting to steal the camera.
“Mr. Knight had been released from the hospital just seven days earlier. He was in no physical shape to do anything,” Suge Knight’s attorney Richard Schonfeld said in reference to the mogul being shot six times at a party hosted by R&B singer Chris Brown.
While these two incidents appear to be unrelated, they could be used as part of Knight’s defense, should he ultimately decide to take the case to trial.
“That he was just shot a few months ago and feared for his life, this raises an interesting self-defense claim,” attorney Paul Gardner said in reference to Knight’s being shot at the Chris Brown party.
In Gardner’s view, the best option for Suge Knight is to cop a plea for the murder and hope for some leniency at sentencing. “However, if the State is not offering anything satisfactory – then he should proceed to trial. Strange things happen at trial,” Gardner explained.
“Mr. Knight will likely receive life in prison or the equivalent. He is 49 years old,” Gardner predicted.
“So, in the words of Tony Montana: say goodnight to the bad guy! Come on. The last time you gonna see a bad guy like this again…”