Marion “Suge” Knight, the founder/CEO of Black Kapital Records and Death Row Records, was charged with murder earlier this month stemming from a hit-and-run in Compton. This conviction would be the third strike on Knight’s record under California’s Three Strikes Law, resulting in 25 years to life in prison.
The 49-year-old hip-hop mogul allegedly had an altercation with Terry Carter, 55, and actor Cle “Bone” Sloan, before hitting both of them with his car, killing Carter. Knight has been charged with one count of murder, one count of attempted murder, and two counts of hit-and-run. If convicted as charged, Knight will face life in prison.
At the time of the incident, Knight was out on bail on a separate robbery case. Knight and comedian Katt Williams were accused of stealing a camera from a photographer in Beverly Hills in September, for which Knight pleaded guilty in November.
Knight was initially held on $2 million bail for the hit-and-run case, but bail was revoked because prosecutors and authorities considered him to be a flight risk and a Three Strikes candidate. According to KTLA reports, authorities were also concerned about witness intimidation and Knight’s criminal past. He was being held at Men’s Central Jail in downtown Los Angeles, according to county inmate records, after bail was revoked.
“Knight’s attorney said he was trying to escape an attack when he struck the victims,” KTLA reported.“A homicide lieutenant said Knight fought with Sloan through his truck’s driver’s side, then apparently purposefully struck Sloan and Carter with his Ford F-150 Raptor pickup in a parking lot outside Tam’s Burgers.”
California’s Three Strikes Law is notoriously harsh on repeat offenders, which could spell trouble for Knight. He was convicted of two counts of assault with a firearm in 1997, as well as the robbery charges late last year. Under the Three Strikes sentencing law, any defendant convicted of a new felony, having had one prior conviction of a serious felony, will be sentenced to twice the term otherwise provided for the crime; on a defendant’s third felony “strike,” he or she will face a state prison term of 25 years to life.
California voters approved Proposition 36 in 2012, which amended the Three Strikes Law in the following ways ways:
- The new felony must be a serious or violent felony with two or more prior strikes to qualify as a third strike offender.
- Defendants currently serving a third strike sentence may petition the court for reduction of their term to a second strike sentence if they would have been eligible for second strike sentencing under the new law.
“Striker inmates,” or those serving prison time for a Three Strikes offense, made up 25 percent of the prison population in an April 2009 study. Striker sentences are an average of nine years longer than other inmates, incurring an additional $19.2 billion in prison costs.