Suge Knight's Bail Set at $25M

Suge Knight Court Appearance March 9 - H 2015
AP Images

Suge Knight Court Appearance March 9 - H 2015

The former rap mogul, who has been hospitalized repeatedly following recent court appearances, also collapsed after the hearing when deputies brought him back into the courtroom, the AP reported.

After having his bail revoked in the wake of being charged with murder, former rap mogul Suge Knight's bail was set at a Friday hearing.

Los Angeles superior court judge Ronald Coen granted L.A. deputy D.A. Cynthia Barnes' request for Knight's bail to be set at $25 million, but he specified that Knight could not be released unless it was clear that his bail was not feloniously obtained. Knight's lawyer, Matthew Fletcher, noted that his client's bail amount is particularly high, even for someone accused of murder, referencing John A. Gotti, in particular, as an example of a suspect who had been granted a lower bail than his client.

Gotti was freed on $10 million bail in a 1998 extortion case, according to a New York Times report from the time. But Gotti also had to prove that that money wasn't obtained through criminal enterprises, The Times notes.

Knight has been charged with murder in the hit-and-run death of former associate Terry Carter. He was also charged with attempted murder after striking another man with his pickup truck in the same incident in a Compton parking lot. Knight has pleaded not guilty and has been held without bail since February.

In determining the bail amount, the judge considered the maximum sentence Knight would receive if the charges were true, which would be multiple life terms, and the danger to other people if Knight is released. The judge referenced the "numerous incidents outlined in [the D.A.'s motion to set Knight's bail at $25 million] of the potential harm to others and continued serious crime potential." And he said Knight appears to have made numerous threats to others, has ties to other states where he has fled, and has a great potential to flee. Based on these factors, the judge set Knight's bail at $25 million, which is higher than the scheduled bail amount for the case, which the judge stated was $3,335,000.

Prior to the judge's ruling, Fletcher repeatedly argued that $25 million was an excessive bail amount, claiming that most people charged with murder have their bail set at $1 million. "They're saying that Mr. Knight is 25 times more responsible, 25 times more culpable," Fletcher said of the D.A.'s proposed bail amount.

Fletcher also claimed that on the issue of public safety, it's unlikely that his client will find himself in a situation similar to the one in which he was in when he allegedly murdered Carter.

"The odds that Mr. Knight will be attacked by three more gang members in a drive-thru are very minimal," he said. He also suggested that Knight be given an ankle bracelet to monitor his location.

"We don't need to reinvent the wheel just because he's someone who has some notoriety. That's not how justice works," Fletcher said. "Twenty five million is absurd. It's not reasonable. Period."

Knight's attorney argued Friday that bail should be set at $2 million, which is the amount at which it was originally set when Knight turned himself in in February.

Furthermore, Fletcher said Knight should have a bail amount set of some level.

"Generally bail is something that's presumed," he argued. "There's very rare circumstances under which you say no bail." He noted that even in cases involving the Mexican mafia that he's tried, bail has been set.

Fletcher also indicated that the D.A., in expressing concerns about the amount at which bail should be set, was suggesting his client was a character in Fox's hit drama Empire.

"It's like Empire again," he said. "They believe this guy's out there running all these criminal enterprises."

Barnes filed a motion Thursday to set Knight's bail at $25 million, alleging the Death Row Records co-founder had been shaking down rappers, according to The Associated Press. The motion cited numerous threats and acts of violence by Knight dating back to the mid-1990s, the AP reported. It also claims Knight is part of an extortion ring targeting rappers and has made threats over the upcoming N.W.A. biopic Straight Outta Compton.

In regards to the film, the bail motion includes a summary of a heavily redacted police report taken last year from someone who claims Knight issued threats over Straight Outta Compton, the AP reported. The motion adds that Knight warned the victim that he was prepared to attack over the film and would target former N.W.A. members Dr. Dre and Ice Cube. Universal Pictures, which is distributing Straight Outta Compton, declined to comment.

"Knight was angry that he was not compensated for his likeness in the movie," the motion states, according to the AP.

During Friday's hearing, Barnes argued that Knight's past behavior and the incidents outlined in the motion justify the high bail amount the D.A.'s office proposed.

"He's basically above the law," Barnes said of Knight. "This defendant has been on probation, and that didn't work. He was on parole — it did not work. He was convicted of felonies in Nevada, California, federal court — nothing worked."

She argued that perhaps setting a particularly high bail amount would create "the financial incentive that will stop this kind of behavior" and get Knight to follow the law.

Knight's next hearing in the case was set for April 13 at 8:30 a.m. Pacific time.

Knight, who has been hospitalized repeatedly following recent court appearances, also collapsed after the hearing when deputies brought him back into the courtroom, the AP reported.

Paramedics were seen going inside the courtroom, the AP added, with his lawyer indicating that Knight was unconscious. This is the fourth time that Knight has been taken from a courthouse by ambulance since he was charged with murder.

Tatiana Siegel contributed to this report.