(Reuters) – Rap mogul Marion Suge Knight was charged with murder and attempted murder on Monday in connection with an incident in which prosecutors say he ran over two men in a Southern California parking lot last week, killing one of them.
Knight, the 49-year-old co-founder of influential hip hop label Death Row Records, was 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.
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. He was expected to make an initial court appearance on Tuesday.
According to sheriff’s officials, the murder charge stems from an incident that began when Knight and two other people began arguing in the parking lot of a fast-food restaurant in Compton, south of downtown Los Angeles.
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.
Knight then pulled forward, running over one victim and striking the second before leaving the scene, according to the sheriff’s department. One of the victims, identified as 55-year-old Terry Carter, later died.
Knight’s attorney, James Blatt, could not be reached for comment on Monday, but has told local media that Knight was attacked in the parking lot and accidentally ran over the two men as he fled in fear.
Earlier on Monday, a Los Angeles County bail commissioner revoked Knight’s bond at the request of sheriff’s investigators, who argued he was a possible flight risk and candidate for California’s three-strike rule, which gives stiffer sentences to those previously convicted of serious felonies.
Knight, who has served time in prison for violating terms of past sentences, was also considered at risk of intimidating witnesses, according to the sheriff’s department.
Knight’s hip hop empire, which was instrumental in popularizing rap and included successful artists such as Tupac Shakur, Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg, began to decline after his jail stints, the shooting death of Shakur and Dr. Dre’s departure from the label.
He was shot and wounded at a Los Angeles nightclub last year.
Knight pleaded not guilty in November to a charge stemming from accusations he stole a camera from a celebrity photographer and was free on bail in that case at the time of the parking lot altercation.
(Reporting by Eric Kelsey and Dan Whitcomb; Editing by Peter Cooney and Eric Walsh)