LOS ANGELES (AP) — A man who Marion "Suge" Knight ran over told authorities he was mad at the former rap music mogul and punched him through the window of the truck before an encounter that left his friend dead.
Cle "Bone" Sloan testified Monday about the day he and friend Terry Carter were hit by a pickup truck driven by Knight, the co-founder of Death Row Records.
But Sloan refused to identify Knight as the man behind the wheel when he was struck outside a Compton burger stand on Jan. 29. He said he didn't remember specifics of the fight and does not want to be a "snitch."
"I will not be used to send Suge Knight to prison," Sloan, an adviser on the upcoming film "Straight Outta Compton," said, adding that he was only on the stand because he was subpoenaed.
Sloan's testimony was offered during a preliminary hearing Monday during which a judge will determine whether there's enough evidence for Knight to stand trial on murder, attempted murder, and hit-and-run charges. Authorities contend Knight intentionally hit Sloan and Carter. But Knight's attorney Matt Fletcher says his client was ambushed and was trying to escape an attack when he hit the men.
Sloan said he was trying to forget details of the accident, in which he suffered two fractured ankles, a serious cut to his head, two torn ligaments in his knees and a shoulder injury.
"Every day, I try to forget it," Sloan said. "I just know, I screwed up, and Terry's dead."
Sloan's memory troubles prompted Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Ronald Coen to comment at one point on his testimony, "I find that this witness is being deceptive."
Fletcher pressed Sloan on his feelings toward Knight and whether he was "enraged" at him on the day of the incident. Sloan said he was mad, but disputed that he told detectives that he was enraged.
Fletcher also painted Sloan as the aggressor in the incident. He told Sloan that Knight "hadn't attacked you in any form, fashion or manner. You agree?"
"Yes," Sloan said.
Sloan planned to invoke his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination during part of his testimony, but a prosecutor granted him limited immunity. Afterward, Sloan said he still did not remember what occurred before his confrontation with Knight.
He denied he brought a gun to the fight, as Fletcher and one of Knight's previous attorneys have suggested.
A prosecutor plans to show surveillance footage taken from the scene of the accident, and play Sloan's statements to police before concluding the hearing on Monday afternoon.
Knight, 49, was a key player in the gangster rap scene that flourished in the 1990s, and his label once listed Dr. Dre, Tupac Shakur and Snoop Dogg among its artists. Knight lost control of the company after it was forced into bankruptcy. He has prior felony convictions for armed robbery and assault with a gun. He pleaded no contest in 1995 and was sentenced to five years' probation for assaulting two rap entertainers at a Hollywood recording studio in 1992.
He was sentenced in February 1997 to prison for violating terms of that probation by taking part in a fight at a Las Vegas hotel hours before Shakur was fatally wounded in a drive-by attack as he rode in Knight's car just east of the Las Vegas Strip. Shakur's slaying remains unsolved.
Knight's court hearings already have become dramatic affairs — he fired one set of attorneys during a hearing and medical conditions sent him to the hospital four times from courthouse appearances.
He complained last week when deputies brought him into court handcuffed to a wheelchair and has detailed health woes, including weight loss and blindness in one eye, when he's been allowed to speak in court. Knight walked in and out of court at Monday's hearings, and was allowed to have his right hand unrestrained so he could take notes.
The appearance of fragility comes in sharp contrast to Knight's violent reputation and his once-feared status in the music industry.
He faces up to life in prison if convicted of killing Carter. Knight is being held on $25 million bail, an amount Fletcher has argued is excessive.