Suge Knight in court today firing his lead counsel
| By City News Service | 5/9/2016, 1:12 p.m.
Marion "Suge'' Knight formally fired an attorney handling his murder case today the latest in a series of changes to his defense team. The 51-year-old former rap mogul - who has been plagued by health
problems in jail while awaiting trial and underwent an emergency appendectomy in March - smiled at friends in the courtroom and appeared in good spirits. He confirmed to the judge that he was choosing to terminate defense attorney Thaddeus Culpepper. "Yes sir, your honor,'' Knight said in a clear voice.
Attorneys from the law firm of Lessem, Newstat & Tooson will represent Knight on the charges of murder, attempted murder and hit-and-run for allegedly killing 55-year-old Terry Carter and injuring Cle "Bone'' Sloan on Jan. 29, 2015, in the parking lot of Tam's Burgers in the 1200 block of West Rosecrans Avenue. In a news release issued April 26, the new firm anticipated that Culpepper would remain as a co-counsel and said the case will be taken to trial. We strongly caution anyone from rushing to judgment in this case based on Mr. Knight's past,'' defense attorney J. Tooson said. "We believe the
evidence will show that on the day in question, Mr. Knight was ambushed by several perpetrators armed with firearms. While under attack, Mr. Knight attempted to flee for his life.'' At least for now, however, Culpepper will remain counsel of record for a robbery case in which Knight and comedian Micah "Katt'' Williams, are accused of taking a camera from a female press photographer in September 2014. A hearing in that case is set for June 21. Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Ronald S. Coen ordered Culpepper to "immediately'' turn over all discovery in the case to the new attorneys. Culpepper said he didn't have the documents with him and Coen scheduled a hearing for tomorrow at which the files are set to be transferred. Knight is not required to appear at that hearing. A pretrial hearing in the case was also set for May 23. Knight did not give a reason for the change in attorneys, though Culpepper had been warned of possible sanctions by another judge after alleging that authorities were conspiring to deprive his client of his constitutional rights. Knight's phone and visitor privileges in jail have been restricted due to a court order that was issued under seal. Culpepper had filed motions seeking to have those restrictions lifted and records unsealed. Los Angeles Superior Court Judge William Ryan rejected Culpepper's motion last month, saying the restrictions were required to maintain jail security, and were not designed to punish Knight. Ryan also warned that false claims made by Culpepper in his motion could amount to contempt and said if he continued to make such allegations, he could be facing sanctions by the court. Culpepper had replaced defense attorney Thomas Mesereau, who replaced
Matthew Fletcher, who replaced David Kenner. James Blatt represented Knight at the time of his arrest in connectoin with Carter's killing.