Former rap mogul Marion "Suge" Knight was sentenced to 28 years in state prison on Thursday, nearly four years after he killed businessman Terry Carter and injured another man outside a Compton, Calif., burger stand in 2015.
The 53-year-old producer and Death Row Records co-founder struck a surprise plea deal with prosecutors on Sept. 20, just a few days before his trial for murder and attempted murder was set to begin in Los Angeles.
Knight pleaded no contest to voluntary manslaughter and agreed to a prison sentence of 28 years.
During the hearing, members of Carter’s family read emotional letters to the court.
Carter’s daughter, Crystal, who called Knight "a disgusting, selfish disgrace to the human species," detailed her fondest memories of her father and why Knight should be punished for his crime.
“We’ve been here 93 times, 94 court dates we’ve had to endure,” she started. “I’ve always wanted justice for my dad, but now we finally got it.”
Carter’s younger sister also addressed the court and read a moving letter from Carter’s wife, in addition to her own.
“These children have been robbed of the only father they know. By God’s grace I am surviving. Not living, surviving. This is a nightmare,” read the words of Carter’s wife. “I am no longer the mother, sister, wife I once was. I am no longer wife because of the defendant’s senseless actions.”
The letter continued, “Because of the defendant I have an endless flood of tears; no matter how hard I try to keep them back, they continue to flow.”
The sentence represents the lowest point of a long decline for Knight, one of the most important figures in the history of hip-hop. At his pinnacle in the mid-1990s, he was putting out wildly popular records that are now considered classics from Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg and Tupac Shakur.
Knight was at the center of the feud between East Coast and West Coast rappers that marked the middle of that decade. Shakur was in Knight's car when he was killed in a drive-by attack in Las Vegas in 1996. Knight had felony convictions for armed robbery and assault. He lost control of Death Row after it was forced into bankruptcy.
In January 2015, he got into a fight with a longtime rival, Cle "Bone" Sloan, a consultant on the N.W.A. biopic "Straight Outta Compton."
In a moment captured on surveillance video, Knight backed his truck into Sloan, who was injured, then drove it forward into businessman Terry Carter, who died from his injuries. Knight's attorneys have said it was an act of self-defense.
Voluntary manslaughter would normally bring a sentence of 11 years in prison, but Knight's conviction along with his previous felonies triggers California's "three strikes" law. That doubles the manslaughter sentence and adds an six extra years.
The agreement also clears Knight in two other cases, both from 2014. He was accused of stealing a camera from a woman and of sending threatening text messages to "Straight Outta Compton" director, F. Gary Gray.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.