COMPTON, Calif. – Rap mogul Marion “Suge” Knight pleaded not guilty on Tuesday at a court in Compton, California, on Tuesday to charges including murder in a fatal hit-and-run incident last week.
Knight, the 49-year-old co-founder of influential hip-hop label Death Row Records, was in handcuffs and an orange jail jumpsuit as he stood in a partitioned box at the side of the courtroom.
When the judge asked if he pleaded not guilty, Knight replied, “Yes, your honor.”
He has been charged with one count each of murder and attempted murder, and two counts of felony hit-and-run, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office said.
He is accused of running over two men on Thursday in a pickup truck, killing one, in an incident that began with an argument in the parking lot of a fast-food restaurant in Compton, south of downtown Los Angeles.
Knight and another man began throwing punches at each other through the window of the rap tycoon’s Ford F-150 Raptor pickup before he put the vehicle in reverse, knocking the man to the ground, the sheriff’s department has said.
Knight then pulled forward, running over one man and striking the second before leaving the scene, according to the sheriff’s department. One of the men, identified as 55-year-old Terry Carter, later died.
“From what I understand, he was being attacked and was trying to get away from the attack,” Knight’s attorney, David Kenner, told reporters outside of court.
He said Knight and Carter were friends.
“He’s feeling bad someone he knew is deceased,” Kenner said.
The music executive, who faces a maximum sentence of life in prison if found guilty, was taken into custody on suspicion of murder on Friday after surrendering to Los Angeles County Sheriff’s deputies.