Rap mogul Suge Knight pleads not guilty to murder in California hit-and-run

COMPTON, Calif. – Rap mogul Marion “Suge” Knight pleaded not guilty on Tuesday at a court in Compton, California, on Tuesday to charges including murder in a fatal hit-and-run incident last week.

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Rap mogul Suge Knight stands in court during his arraignment on murder charges at the Compton Courthouse in Compton, California February 3, 2015.  REUTERS-Paul Buck

Rap mogul Suge Knight stands in court during his arraignment on murder charges at the Compton Courthouse in Compton, California February 3, 2015. CREDIT: REUTERS/PAUL BUCK

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Knight, the 49-year-old co-founder of influential hip-hop label Death Row Records, was in handcuffs and an orange jail jumpsuit as he stood in a partitioned box at the side of the courtroom.

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When the judge asked if he pleaded not guilty, Knight replied, “Yes, your honor.”

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He has been charged with one count each of murder and attempted murder, and two counts of felony hit-and-run, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office said.

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He is accused of running over two men on Thursday in a pickup truck, killing one, in an incident that began with an argument in the parking lot of a fast-food restaurant in Compton, south of downtown Los Angeles.

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Knight and another man began throwing punches at each other through the window of the rap tycoon’s Ford F-150 Raptor pickup before he put the vehicle in reverse, knocking the man to the ground, the sheriff’s department has said.

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Knight then pulled forward, running over one man and striking the second before leaving the scene, according to the sheriff’s department. One of the men, identified as 55-year-old Terry Carter, later died.

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“From what I understand, he was being attacked and was trying to get away from the attack,” Knight’s attorney, David Kenner, told reporters outside of court.

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He said Knight and Carter were friends.

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“He’s feeling bad someone he knew is deceased,” Kenner said.

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The music executive, who faces a maximum sentence of life in prison if found guilty, was taken into custody on suspicion of murder on Friday after surrendering to Los Angeles County Sheriff’s deputies.