By Steve Gorman
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A Los Angeles judge refused on Tuesday to dismiss murder and attempted-murder charges against rap mogul Marion "Suge" Knight in the hit-and-run death of one man and injury of another outside a hamburger stand in January.
Defense lawyers had filed a motion seeking to throw out the case on grounds that a key witness declined under oath to identify the Death Row Records co-founder as the driver who ran over the two victims with a pickup truck.But Superior Court Judge Stephen Marcus sided with the prosecution, ruling there was more than enough evidence to establish that Knight was behind the wheel of the vehicle.
"There's no doubt that 'Suge' Knight was the person who drove the red truck," the judge said, as Knight sat in court, dressed in an orange jail uniform.
Knight, 50, is charged with murder, attempted murder and two counts of felony hit-and-run in a Jan. 29 confrontation in the L.A. suburb of Compton that left Terry Carter dead and Cle "Boan" Sloan with a badly mangled left foot and head injuries.
Knight, held on $10 million bail, has pleaded not guilty.
His lawyers have contended he accidentally ran into the two men while trying to flee what he thought was an ambush attempt, following an argument on the nearby set of a commercial for the film "Straight Outta Compton."
Prosecutors have said Knight traded punches with Sloan through the window of his truck before putting the vehicle into reverse, knocking Sloan, 51, and Carter, 55, to the ground, then pulling forward to run over both men.
Taking the witness stand at a preliminary hearing in the case in April, Sloan balked at giving testimony that would incriminate the defendant, declaring, "I'm no snitch."
Knight's newly hired lawyer, Tom Mesereau, who successfully defended the late pop star Michael Jackson against child molestation charges a decade ago, told Judge Marcus on Tuesday, "It's an outrage that anybody would be charged with homicide in case like this."
He said if anyone should be charged, it should have been Sloan, "who set in motion all the events that led to someone being run over."
Knight is due back in court for a bail hearing on July 17. Further hearings in the hit-and-run prosecution and a separate robbery case against him are slated for Sept. 17.
If convicted of murder, Knight faces a mandatory sentence of 25 years to life in prison.
(Editing by Eric Walsh)