Former rap mogul Marion “Suge” Knight was due in court on Thursday to formally receive a 28-year prison sentence for his manslaughter conviction in the fatal 2015 hit-and-run killing of a man he ran down with his pickup truck.
Knight, 53, is known as much for run-ins with the law as for his career as a hip-hop executive during which he promoted the likes of Snoop Dogg, Dr. Dre and Tupac Shakur in the 1990s.
He pleaded no contest on Sept. 20 to a charge of manslaughter for a hit-and-run killing. He admitted using a “deadly and dangerous weapon” on Jan. 29, 2015 when he ran down two men with his pickup truck outside a hamburger stand in the Los Angeles suburb of Compton, following a heated argument on the set of a commercial for the film “Straight Outta Compton.”
Knight, who was out on bail in a robbery case at the time, fled the scene but was later arrested.
Had Knight been convicted of murder and attempted murder as originally charged, he would have faced a mandatory sentence of 25 years to life in prison.
As part of the agreement to plead no contest to a single count of voluntary manslaughter, all other charges in the case were dropped. Two separate criminal cases in which he was charged with robbery and making criminal threats will also be dismissed when he is formally sentenced on Thursday, prosecutors said.
The co-founder of the influential label Death Row Records previously served more than half of a nine-year term for violating the probation he received in 1995 for an assault on two aspiring rappers at a Hollywood recording studio.
The probation violation stemmed from a scuffle he was involved in at a Las Vegas hotel in September 1996, hours before Shakur was shot to death while riding in a car being driven by Knight on the Las Vegas Strip. Knight was slightly wounded in the attack.
In 2002, the year after his release from prison, a federal racketeering probe of Knight and his record label was closed with the company pleading guilty to misdemeanor tax charges. The onetime college football star and “gangsta” rap pioneer eventually lost control of his label in bankruptcy proceedings.
BY STEVE GORMAN