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LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A lawyer for Marion "Suge" Knight, who is accused of running down two men with his pick-up truck at a Los Angeles area burger stand, killing one of them, says the rap mogul is blind in his left eye and may not have seen clearly during the incident.
Attorney Matthew Fletcher told celebrity news website TMZ that Knight, who suffers from glaucoma, did not have a clear view of his left side and so was forced to drive forward through the parking lot of Tam's Burgers in the Los Angeles suburb of Compton following fisticuffs with one of the men in January.
Fletcher also told TMZ Knight may not have clearly seen Terry Carter, 55, who was struck and killed by the Ford F-150. Cle "Bone" Sloan, 51, who was also hit by Knight's vehicle, survived his injuries.
The attorney said Carter had screamed something about shooting Knight, 49, and that the music executive could not see well enough to tell if Carter was brandishing a gun.
The remarks come one day after TMZ posted a graphic video, apparently captured by a Tam's security camera, of Knight running over the Carter and Sloan.
The tape appears to support a contention by prosecutors that Knight, who had traded blows with Sloan through the driver's side window of his truck, deliberately ran the men down as he sped from the scene.
But Fletcher has said the videotape will help exonerate his client because it shows Knight fleeing an ambush at the burger shop.
The videotape appears to show that Knight could have driven left down a side street rather than through the parking lot where Sloan and Carter were standing, but Fletcher told the New York Daily News in an interview published on Wednesday that his client's vision problems made that impossible.
"How can he go left if he can’t see?" Fletcher told the paper. "This was a literal presentation of being blindsided. He was attacked on his blind side. To me it seems obvious. He’s being punched in the face, he can’t see."
Knight has pleaded innocent to murder, attempted murder and hit-and-run charges in the case. No trial date has been set.
The co-founder of influential Death Row Records has previous convictions for assault with a deadly weapon and could face 25 years to life in prison under California's so-called three-strikes law if he is convicted at trial.
Reporting by Dan Whitcomb; Editing by Mohammad Zargham