Suge Knight Defense Attorneys Charged With Conspiracy
Death Row Records co-founder Marion “Suge” Knight is currently on trial for the vehicular hit-and-run murder of music executive Terry Carter, among a list of other charges. If convicted the Compton, California native and onetime music mogul could face life in prison.
Despite his incarceration for more than two years, Knight’s name has been active. The 52-year-old recently granted phone interviews to FOX’s Who Killed Biggie & Tupac, as well as BET’s Death Row Chronicles, a miniseries produced in conjunction with the record label Knight and Dr. Dre started in 1991. While Suge no longer owns the label instrumental to the careers of Snoop Dogg, Tupac, and Tha Dogg Pound, he spoke about its history and impact. While Suge cleared his name on several storied incidents (and confirmed others, including one in the video below) attached to his legacy, his current situation just grew more complicated.
Two of Knight’s recent attorneys during the murder trial are now charged with conspiracy. The Associated Press reports that former Knight defense attorney Matthew Fletcher and Thaddeus Culpepper conspired to bribe witnesses related to the ongoing trial. There were three additional felony charges. “The indictment says Fletcher attempted to pay off witnesses who could provide favorable testimony at Knight’s trial, and alleges Culpepper agreed with a confidential informant that he would provide false testimony,” reports the AP.
Both attorneys were charged Monday (March 5) and later released. Arraignment is scheduled for March 16. The two men were arrested in late January, according to the New York Daily News. That arrest appears to be related to this week’s formal charges.
No witnesses are named in the report. Cle “Bone” Sloan survived the 2015 attack from Knight’s Ford Raptor truck. However, the prominent gang member, Bastards Of The Party director, and Training Day actor was severely injured. The fatal hit-and-run took place at Tam’s Burger in Knight’s home city of Compton. The incident followed an altercation on the set of Dr. Dre co-produced film, Straight Outta Compton. That film portrayed Knight.
Since the trial began in 2015, Knight had switched counsel at least four times. Former high-ranking Death Row executive David Kenner is among the lawyers who have represented Knight during this period.
With Kenner as Death Row’s head of counsel in 1996, Knight and the label faced similar legal accusations. This came after several conflicts of interests were discovered involving Knight, Kenner, and a prosecuting attorney. “About a year after Knight settled [an] assault case with a plea bargain, Death Row signed the teenage daughter of prosecutor Lawrence M. Longo to a record contract while Longo was monitoring Knight’s probation. In addition, Knight lived this summer in a Malibu home owned by Longo’s family. The district attorney’s office took Longo off the case last month and he is under investigation. Longo said the house had been rented to Kenner,” reported The Los Angeles Times that year. Gina Longo, the aforementioned daughter of the opposing lawyer, never released a song while signed to Death Row. While a 1996 bench warrant was issued for Kenner, the attorney would not serve time. Meanwhile, Knight would spend the remainder of the decade behind bars for violating probation the night of the shooting, which ultimately killed Tupac.
Last month, Knight’s fiancée and mother to his 8-year-old child, Toi-Lin Kelly, was sentenced to three years in prison for helping Suge arrange the Death Row Chronicles interviews by providing funds in other inmates’ accounts. Knight then conducted interviews using those inmates’ phone codes. The offense violated the 37-year-old’s probation, including plea-bargained restrictions against her contacting her fiancée. The engaged couple was allegedly using hired private investigator Tony Moore as a go-between, which led to the jail time. In 2017, prosecutors accused Kelly of selling surveillance footage of the incident leading to the death of Carter as well as Knight’s trial to TMZ for $55,000. Footage of the incident was also released by Terry Carter’s family, in a public plea for justice.
According to the L.A. Times, Knight’s murder trial resumes in April.