LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A Los Angeles judge on Thursday ordered rap mogul Marion “Suge” Knight to stand trial for murder in the January hit-and-run death of a man outside a hamburger stand, rejecting a bid by Knight’s lawyer to have the case dismissed.
Knight, 49, has pleaded not guilty to charges including murder and attempted murder stemming from the incident in the Los Angeles suburb of Compton that followed an argument on the set of a commercial for the film “Straight Outta Compton.”
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Ronald Coen made his ruling after a preliminary hearing to consider evidence. Knight is accused of deliberately running over 55-year-old Terry Carter, who later died, and another man with his pickup truck.
If convicted, the co-founder of the influential hip hop label Death Row Records would face a mandatory sentence of 25 years to life in prison.
“It appeared to me it was not an attempt to escape. It was an attempt at murder,” the judge said.
After the hearing, Knight was taken to the hospital for a medical emergency, said Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department spokeswoman Nicole Nishida.
Knight has complained of health problems and been hospitalized at least three other times after court hearings this year.
Knight’s attorney, Matthew Fletcher, during the hearing asked the judge to dismiss the case. He argued the three or four men, including Carter and Cle “Boan” Sloan, who confronted Knight at the hamburger stand, were armed with a gun, and that Knight defended himself and then fled.
Prosecutors have said Knight traded punches with one of the men through the window of his vehicle during the Jan. 29 fracas before putting the truck into reverse.
“I think this is a mutual combat situation,” prosecutor Cynthia Barnes told the judge.
Knight ran over Sloan when he backed up the truck, Barnes said. Then, instead of driving away, he aimed his vehicle to hit Sloan a second time and run over Carter before leaving the scene, she said.
Sloan, a 51-year-old self-described “non-active gang member,” suffered a badly mangled left foot and head injuries.
Coen scheduled a hearing in the case for April 30 and reduced Knight’s bail to $10 million from $25 million.
Knight is charged separately with robbery and making a terroristic threat in connection with the September theft of a camera in Beverly Hills. Last August, Knight was shot and wounded at a Los Angeles-area nightclub.
Editing by Daniel Wallis, Will Dunham and Eric Walsh