LOS ANGELES (AP) — A judge ruled Tuesday that Marion "Suge" Knight should stand trial on murder charges even though a key witness — one of the men he's accused of running over — refused to identify him in court.
Cle "Bone" Sloan told detectives it was Knight who ran over him and another man outside a Compton burger stand in January, killing the other man and seriously injuring Sloan. But when Sloan testified about the incident at Knight's preliminary hearing in April, he refused to say Knight ran him over.
Knight's attorney Thomas Mesereau said the judge should reject Sloan's testimony because his changing story showed he isn't credible.
But Superior Court Judge Stephen A. Marcus said he could not evaluate the credibility of witnesses at a preliminary hearing. The judge noted, "He doesn't say that it's not him."
He also cited evidence that Sloan and Knight had bad blood between them for years, calling the fight that led to the fatal confrontation part of an ongoing "soap opera" between the men.
"The only person who had a motive was Suge Knight," the judge said.
Sloan told detectives he repeatedly punched Knight through the window of his pickup moments before he was run over. After running over Sloan, Knight ran over and killed Terry Carter, 55, investigators said.
Knight's attorneys have said their client was ambushed and fleeing an attack when he ran over the men.
Mesereau said after the hearing that the case was in its early stages and he wouldn't comment further.
Knight is being held on $10 million bail, which Mesereau said Tuesday he would seek to have reduced.
Knight was a key player in the gangster rap scene that flourished in the 1990s, and his Death Row Records label once listed Dr. Dre, Tupac Shakur and Snoop Dogg among its artists. He lost control of the company after it was forced into bankruptcy.
Knight has prior felony convictions for armed robbery and assault with a gun. He was driving the car when Shakur was shot and killed in Las Vegas, a crime that has gone unsolved.
A judge on Tuesday also set a preliminary hearing for Sept. 17 in an unrelated robbery case filed after a celebrity photographer accused Knight and comedian Katt Williams of stealing her camera last year.
Anthony McCartney can be reached at http://twitter.com/mccartneyAP .