'Suge' Knight Changes Attorneys For Hit-And-Run Murder Case

(FOX 11 / AP) Former rap mogul Marion "Suge" Knight, who is charged with murder and attempted murder for allegedly running over two men in Compton, changed attorneys Monday.

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Outside the courtroom after a quick hearing in which March 20 was confirmed as the date of Knight's bail review hearing, his new attorney said a video released Sunday night by TMZ shows "this was a set-up."

Matthew Fletcher told reporters that the "instigators in this case are the alleged victims," alleging they lured Knight to a parking lot and attacked him.

"You have every duty to defend yourself," the defense attorney said. Fletcher said he was confident that California law would exonerate his client, alleging that 55-year-old Terry Carter's death was "a natural and probable consequence" of a plan by Carter and two other men to assault Knight.

He used the analogy of a getaway driver for a bank robbery being killed while committing a crime.

"They started it. They attacked him," Fletcher alleged.

The District Attorney's Office declined to comment on the surveillance footage.

The video shows a red truck, identified as Knight's, backing up and clipping a man, identified as 51-year-old Cle "Bone" Sloan, at 2:55 p.m. Jan 29 in the parking lot of Tam's Burgers in the 1200 block of West Rosecrans Avenue near Central Avenue.

The red truck is then seen gunning forward and hitting Sloan and Carter, who died of his injuries. But it does not show all that led up to that moment, in which 51-year-old Cle Sloan was also injured.

Lt. John Corina, a sheriff's homicide detective, has said investigators believe Knight intentionally struck the men and that he was not acting out of a reasonable fear.

Corina previously said Knight had gotten into an argument at a film shoot and was told to leave. Corina said the argument started back up about 20 minutes later at Tam's, about three miles away.

Fletcher disputed those statements, saying there was no movie shoot and no earlier argument. Instead, he said, Carter and two other men called Knight and told him to meet them at the burger stand.

TMZ reported rapper Dr. Dre was filming footage at Tam's for a promotional video for "Straight Outta Compton," a biopic of the groundbreaking Compton rap group N.W.A.

Fletcher said he believed the three were "active gang members" and questioned why they brought a gun if they only wanted to share a meal.

When questioned why his client didn't drive around rather than over Carter, Fletcher answered that "the law in California is crystal clear" and said his client was entitled to do what he needed to do "to get away from people who (were) attacking" him.

He said Knight could be seen in the video holding his hands up. "I'm very, very comfortable with the truth," Fletcher said. "The truth is in the video."

Knight is also accused, along with comedian Micah "Katt" Williams, with stealing a camera from a paparazzo in Beverly Hills on Sept. 5. A preliminary hearing date is scheduled to be set on April 8 in that case.

Attorney David Kenner remains Knight's attorney on that case.

Knight served five years in prison for assault and federal weapons violations and, after his release in 2001, spent another 10 months behind bars for violating parole by hitting a Hollywood nightclub valet.

FOX 11 reporter Phil Shuman's take:

Is it evidence of murder or is it evidence of a man fleeing because he was in fear for his life? Ultimately, that may be for a jury to decide.

In the meantime, TMZ has obtained and released security camera video of the incident in which Suge Knight ran over two people at that Tam's burger joint in Compton back in January, injuring one and killing another.

Knight has been charged with murder and attempted murder in yet another high-profile run in with the law that has made him a regular on the news and in the courts. Knight fired his defense team and has a new attorney, Matthew Fletcher, who told reporters after a brief hearing this morning that ''the instigators in this case are the alleged victims" and "you have every right to defend yourself.''

The video is graphic and open to interpretation. It clearly shows someone, apparently Cle "Bone" Sloan, approaching Knight as he pulls into the driveway.

Knight backs up, clipping Sloan, then pulls forward, hitting Sloan again and then running right over a man later identified as Terry Carter, dragging him under the truck and out of the frame. Carter's family, who has their own attorney, says Knight's claims that he was in some kind of fear for his life is ''nonsense."

The attorney, Gary Dordick, told me that if that was the case, why didn't Knight simply drive off down the side street after backing out of the burger joint's driveway? Why didn't he call 911? Why did he decide to gun the truck forward into a group of people?

All good questions which Knight' s team will no doubt have to explain thoroughly if and when this case comes to court.

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