Former rap mogul Marion “Suge” Knight is expected to be sentenced Thursday to nearly three decades in prison at a Los Angeles court hearing that comes nearly four years after he killed one man and injured another with his truck outside a Compton burger stand.
The 53-year-old Death Row Records co-founder struck a surprise plea deal with prosecutors on Sept. 20, just a few days before he was to have stood trial for murder and attempted murder.
Knight instead pleaded no contest to voluntary manslaughter and agreed to a prison sentence of 28 years.
The sentence represents the low point of a long decline for Knight, one of the most important figures in the history of hip-hop. At his pinnacle in the mid-1990s, he was putting out wildly popular records that are now considered classics from Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg and Tupac Shakur.
Knight was at the center of the feud between East Coast and West Coast rappers that marked the middle of that decade. Shakur was in Knight’s car when he was killed in a drive-by attack in Las Vegas in 1996.
Knight had felony convictions for armed robbery and assault. He lost control of Death Row after it was forced into bankruptcy.
In January 2015, he got into a fight with a longtime rival, Cle “Bone” Sloan, a consultant on the N.W.A. biopic “Straight Outta Compton.”
In a moment captured on surveillance video, Knight backed his truck into Sloan, who was injured, then drove it forward into businessman Terry Carter, who died from his injuries. Knight’s attorneys have said it was an act of self-defense.
Voluntary manslaughter would normally bring a sentence of 11 years in prison, but Knight’s conviction along with his previous felonies triggers California’s three strikes law. That doubles the manslaughter sentence and adds an extra six years.
The agreement also clears Knight in two other cases, both from 2014. He was accused of stealing a camera from a woman and of sending threatening text messages to “Straight Outta Compton” director F. Gary Gray.