Twists and turns in murder case of Marion ‘Suge’ Knight add up to drama — even before the trial begins


While awaiting a murder trial, Knight has become the star of a legal circus complete with a revolving door of attorneys, the defendant collapsing in court and, in true L.A. fashion, the leaking of sealed evidence to the celebrity news website TMZ.

This week, the sideshow that already ensnared Knight’s fiancee and business partner expanded as authorities on Thursday arrested two of the rap impresario’s former attorneys, accusing them of acting as “accessories after the fact.”

Matthew Fletcher and Thaddeus Culpepper had been held in lieu of $1-million bail. But in an unexpected turn, both were released late Friday, sheriff’s officials said in a statement.

“The case is very complex in nature, requiring further review by the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office,” the statement said. “Mr. Culpepper and Mr. Fletcher were released from custody today, pending an evaluation into the complexities of the case.”

It is unclear exactly what charges the attorneys might face. Prosecutors alleged in court papers filed last year that they and others tampered with witnesses and discussed bribes connected to Knight’s murder case. But the district attorney’s office did not file charges Friday, and investigators would not comment further. It was the latest twist in an already memorable case, one that experts say points to concerns prosecutors may have over Knight’s ability to dissuade or intimidate witnesses who could testify against him.

“It is unusually more aggressive than any other case that we’ve seen in many years,” Lou Shapiro, a Los Angeles criminal defense attorney, said of the arrests. “And that’s because there’s an actual and realistic fear that a witness, or more than one witness, will actually disappear.”

The Compton-born Knight, 52, is the co-founder of Death Row Records, a record label that helped push gangsta rap into the mainstream with stars including Tupac Shakur, Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg.

He is expected to stand trial soon on charges that he barreled his truck into Terry Carter and Cle “Bone” Sloan in the parking lot of a Compton burger stand in January 2015, after a dispute on the set of the movie “Straight Outta Compton.”

Carter, 55, died of his injuries. Sloan was seriously injured.

Footage from a security camera — the video that was later leaked to TMZ — shows Knight plowing his truck into the men. Knight, who fled the scene but later returned, pleaded not guilty and says he acted in self-defense.

Just three months earlier, Knight was charged with robbery after prosecutors alleged he and comedian Micah “Katt” Williams chased a woman and stole her camera in Beverly Hills.

Knight’s court appearances were dramatic from the start. He was hospitalized after pleading not guilty to the murder and attempted murder charges, and was rushed to the hospital again before another hearing connected to the robbery case. When a judge set his bail for $25 million, Knight collapsed in the courtroom.

Prosecutors later alleged in court documents that just two weeks after the deadly hit-and-run, Knight’s fiancee, Toi-Lin Kelly, and business partner, Mark Blankenship, began arranging the sale of the video to TMZ for $55,000.

The grainy footage, taken from a security camera at Tam’s Burgers, shows Knight’s red Ford F-150 Raptor pickup ramming into Carter and Sloan.

“I can’t wait to get this video to you,” Kelly texted a TMZ correspondent in February 2015, according to court records.

Prosecutors alleged Kelly and Blankenship knew the video was under a protective court order. They were charged with conspiring to violate that court order, obstruct justice and commit grand theft.

Last fall, Kelly pleaded no contest to violating the court order. Under the deal, the other two charges were dropped.

In February 2017, a grand jury indicted Knight in a third case, in which he was accused of threatening F. Gary Gray, the director of the N.W.A biopic “Straight Outta Compton.” Knight was furious about his depiction in the film and the fact that he had not been paid, according to court records.

He repeatedly called and sent the director text messages laced with expletives, gang terminology and a racial slur, the court records said.

“I will see u in person … u have kids just like me so let’s play hardball,” Knight wrote. In another message, he bragged about being from “Bomton,” using Bloods slang. Knight then allegedly told Gray that he would “make sure” the director and others received “hugs” — slang for physical violence, detectives told the grand jury.

The messages left Gray so shaken that he spent nearly two days dodging questions about the incident during the grand jury hearing, according to transcripts that were later made public. During the hearing, he repeatedly said he could not remember anything about the messages — claims that one prosecutor said underscored his fear of Knight.

“He’s so afraid he came in here and lied under oath,” Deputy Dist. Atty. Cynthia Barnes told the grand jury. “He’s perjuring himself because he’s that afraid.”

Another bombshell came late last summer, when prosecutors alleged in a 22-page court filing that Knight and Fletcher had discussed bribing witnesses to fabricate testimony in Knight’s murder trial. Prosecutors pointed to a series of recorded phone calls made in early 2015, in which Kelly and Blankenship were also on the line.

During those calls, prosecutors allege, the group talked about paying witnesses to say they saw either the victims or others at the burger stand with a gun — a move that would bolster Knight’s claims of self-defense.

By that time, Fletcher was no longer representing Knight in the murder case. But prosecutors asked the court to conduct its own inquiry into whether Fletcher had a conflict of interest in representing Knight in the threat case, in part because investigators had “gathered evidence of possible witness tampering, bribery, conspiracy to violate a court order and obstruction of justice on the part of attorney Fletcher.”

When the filing was unsealed last August, Fletcher denied wrongdoing, telling The Times that prosecutors had taken his words out of context. Any talk of money, he said, was about attempts to obtain cellphone video of the hit-and-run.

In the filing, prosecutors also said Culpepper agreed to pay an informant for “his sworn testimony that he was present at the time of the crime and [witnessed] evidence favorable to the defense.”

Though calls between Fletcher and Knight normally would have been protected by attorney-client privilege, a judge allowed investigators to listen to recordings if Knight called someone who then put Fletcher on the line, thus breaking the privilege.

The move drew mixed reviews from attorneys not affiliated with Knight’s case. Shapiro said he worried it would have a chilling effect between lawyers and clients who are already in custody. But Eric Schweitzer, treasurer of the California Attorneys for Criminal Justice, said attorney-client privilege is broken if a non-attorney, or a person not employed by an attorney, is on the call.

“You’re my client, and I say to you, ‘OK, meet me at the Denny’s,’ and we sit down at the counter and we start yakety-yaking about the case, and … the waitress overhears me saying, ‘You know, you shouldn’t have ditched the gun in the storm drain in front of Pico and La Brea,'” he said. “There’s no privilege there. We haven’t communicated in a way that we would have any reasonable, subjective expectation of privacy.”

Fletcher slammed the move at the time, telling The Times it was “fairly reprehensible.”

Culpepper also chastised the district attorney’s office.

“The facts in this case are extremely compelling and overwhelmingly prove Mr. Knight’s innocence,” Culpepper wrote in an email to The Times in August. “No amount of prosecutorial spin or mudslinging will change that!”

Neither attorney could be reached for comment after their arrests Thursday.

Time To Get Ill: Beastie Boys Memoir On Its Way

By Kyle Eustice


Beastie Boys’ Mike D recently chopped it up with Beats 1 Radio host and former NME editor Matt Wilkinson who inquired about the Beastie Boys memoir that’s been in the works since 2013. When asked how the book was coming along, Mike D replied, “swimmingly” before revealing it would come out this fall.

“We’re actually going to finish it,” he said. “I think it’s going to come out finally. Like many things we embark on, there were many false starts and honestly directions we went in we realized were not the direction we should be going in. It’s going to be coming out in fall of this year.”

The surviving members of the New York City trio — Mike D and Adam “Ad-Rock” Horowitz — lost fellow Beastie Adam “MCA” Yauch in 2012 from cancer, shortly after putting out their eighth studio album, 2011’s Hot Sauce Committee Part II. The memoir will focus on the early days but go into present day as well, according to Mike D.

“It’s everything and the kitchen sink,” he explained. “To tell our story, we have to give the cultural history of where we came from. So New York City in the ’80s, you had all this incredible, exciting music, art, film. All of that sort of has to converge to be able to explain. We just had the good fortune of being around all of it, so I think that’s number one.”

“I think a lot of times when I read a band book or I watch a music documentary, maybe I’m just kind of ADD, I get a little bored,” he continued. “But actually, I don’t think they do the subject matter justice because it’s kinda surreal what happens in bands’ lives, so you kind of have to use all dimensions to tell the story more accurately.”

Although Mike D says they “aren’t writers,” he added, “I can say pretty confidently, it will be unlike any other music book.”

A Martin Luther King Day of Truth


By Edward Curtin

As Martin Luther King’s birthday is celebrated with a national holiday, his death day disappears down the memory hole. Across the country — in response to the King Holiday and Service Act passed by Congress and signed by President Clinton in 1994 — people will be encouraged to make the day one of service. Such service does not include King’s commitment to protest a decadent system of racial and economic injustice or non-violently resist the U.S. warfare state that he called “the greatest purveyor of violence on earth.”

Government sponsored service is cultural neo-liberalism at its finest, the promotion of individualism at the expense of a mass movement for radical institutional change.

“Nothing in all the world is more dangerous,” warned Dr. King, “than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.”

How true those words. For the government that honors Dr. King with a national holiday killed him. This is the suppressed truth behind the highly promoted day of service. It is what you are not supposed to know.

The word service is a loaded word, a smiley face word. It has also become a vogue word over the past 35 years. Its use for MLK Day is clear: individuals are encouraged to volunteer for activities such as tutoring children, painting senior centers, or delivering meals to the elderly, activities that are good in themselves but far less good when used to conceal an American prophet’s radical message. After all, Martin Luther King’s work was not volunteering at the local food pantry with Oprah Winfrey cheering him on.

King was not murdered because he had spent his heroic life promoting individual volunteerism. To understand his life and death — to celebrate the man — “it is essential to realize although he is popularly depicted and perceived as a civil rights leader, he was much more than that. A non-violent revolutionary, he personified the most powerful force for a long overdue social, political, and economic reconstruction of the nation.” Those are the words of William Pepper, the King family lawyer, from his comprehensive and definitive study of the King assassination, “The Plot to Kill King,” a book that should be read by anyone concerned with truth and justice.

Attacked by media, govt.

Revolutionaries are, of course, anathema to the power elites who, with all their might, resist such rebels’ efforts to transform society. If they can’t buy them off, they knock them off. Fifty years after King’s assassination, the causes he fought for — civil rights, the end to U.S. wars of aggression, and economic justice for all — remain not only unfulfilled, but have worsened in so many respects. And King’s message has been enervated by the sly trick of giving him a national holiday and then urging Americans to make it “a day of service.” The vast majority of those who innocently participate in these activities have no idea who killed King, or why. If they did, they might pause in their tracks, and combine their “service” activities with a teach-in on the truth of these matters.

Because MLK repeatedly called the United States the “greatest purveyor of violence on earth,” he was universally condemned by the mass media and government that later — once he was long and safely dead and no longer a threat — praised him to the heavens. This has continued to the present day of historical amnesia.

Educating people about the fact that U.S. government forces conspired to kill Dr. King, and why, and why it matters today, is the greatest service we can render to his memory.

William Pepper’s decades-long investigation not only refutes the flimsy case against the alleged assassin James Earl Ray, but definitively proves that King was killed by a government conspiracy led by J. Edgar Hoover, the FBI, Army Intelligence, and the Memphis Police, assisted by southern Mafia figures.

This shocking truth is accentuated when one is reminded (or told for the first time) that in 1999 a Memphis jury, after a 30-day civil trial with over 70 witnesses, found the U.S. government guilty in the killing of MLK. The King family had brought the suit and Pepper represented them. They were grateful that the truth was confirmed, but saddened by the way the findings were buried by the media in cahoots with the government.

Pepper not only demolishes the government’s self-serving case with a plethora of evidence, but shows how the mainstream media, academia, and government flacks have spent years covering up the truth of MLK’s murder through lies and disinformation. Another way they have accomplished this is by convincing a gullible public that “service” is a substitute for truth.

But service without truth is a disservice to the life, legacy, and radical witness of this great American hero. It is propaganda aimed at convincing decent people that they are serving the essence of MLK’s message while they are obeying their masters, the very government that murdered him.

It is time to rebel against the mind manipulation served by the MLK Day of Service. Let us offer service, but let us also learn and tell the truth.

“He who lives with untruth lives in spiritual slavery,” King told us, “Freedom is still the bonus we receive for knowing the truth.”

Suge Knight Says Police Are Eavesdropping On Calls To His Lawyer

By Kyle Eustice


LOS ANGELES, CA – Controversial Hip Hop figure Suge Knight has taken issue with prosecutors working on his hit-and-run murder case and the Los Angeles County Sheriff Department. According to TMZ,the former Death Row Records CEO filed a motion accusing them of eavesdropping on his conversations with his legal team since last August.

In court documents obtained by TMZ, Knight demands all court orders should be thrown out since they were ordered by a judge who recused himself from the case. As of Thursday (January 4), that request has been denied.

Knight has been in an L.A. County jail since January 2015. He was arrested on murder charges for a deadly hit-and-run outside of Tam’s Burgers near the 1200 block of West Rosecrans Avenue in Los Angeles.

Knight’s trial is scheduled to begin next week.

Essence Magazine Leaves Time Inc. And Is Now Completely Black-Owned

By Ivie E. Ani

Essence Magazine is now 100% black-owned.

Essence Ventures LLC, an independent black-owned company today announced its acquisition of Essence Communications Inc., home of Essence magazine, from Time Inc. on Wednesday. This major move marks Essence’s return to being a 100% black-owned company.

“This acquisition of Essence represents the beginning of an exciting transformation of our iconic brand as it evolves to serve the needs and interests of multigenerational Black women around the world in an even more elevated and comprehensive way across print, digital, e-commerce and experiential platforms,”  Essence president Michelle Ebanks told Business Wire, who will keep her place at the helm of the company will also joining its board of directors.

“In addition, it represents a critical recognition, centering and elevation of the Black women running the business from solely a leadership position to a co-ownership position.”

Essence Ventures started in 2017 and is chaired by founder, entrepreneur, investor and philanthropist Richelieu Dennis.

In addition, the all black female executive team of Essence, including Ebanks, will have an equity stake in the business.

Founded in 1970, Essence has now expanded, reaching a global audience of more than 16 million across its many platforms.


A History of New Years Day

By The Associated Press


In 46 B.C.E. the Roman emperor Julius Caesar first established January 1 as New Year’s day. Janus was the Roman god of doors and gates, and had two faces, one looking forward and one back.  Caesar felt that the month named after this god (“January”) would be the appropriate “door” to the year.  Caesar celebrated the first January 1 New Year by ordering the violent routing of revolutionary Jewish forces in the Galilee.  Eyewitnesses say blood flowed in the streets.  In later years, Roman pagans observed the New Year by engaging in drunken orgies—a ritual they believed constituted a personal re-enacting of the chaotic world that existed before the cosmos was ordered by the gods.

As Christianity spread, pagan holidays were either incorporated into the Christian calendar or abandoned altogether.  By the early medieval period most of Christian Europe regarded Annunciation Day (March 25) as the beginning of the year.  (According to Catholic tradition, Annunciation Day commemorates the angel Gabriel’s announcement to Mary that she would be impregnated by G-d and conceive a son to be called Jesus.)

After William the Conqueror (AKA “William the Bastard” and “William of Normandy”) became King of England on December 25, 1066, he decreed that the English return to the date established by the Roman pagans, January 1.  This move ensured that the commemoration of Jesus’ birthday (December 25) would align with William’s coronation, and the commemoration of Jesus’ circumcision (January 1) would start the new year – thus rooting the English and Christian calendars and his own Coronation).  William’s innovation was eventually rejected, and England rejoined the rest of the Christian world and returned to celebrating New Years Day on March 25.

About five hundred years later, in 1582, Pope Gregory XIII (AKA “Ugo Boncompagni”, 1502-1585) abandoned the traditional Julian calendar.  By the Julian reckoning, the solar year comprised 365.25 days, and the intercalation of a “leap day” every four years was intended to maintain correspondence between the calendar and the seasons.  Really, however there was a slight inaccuracy in the Julian measurement (the solar year is actually 365 days, 5 hours, 48 minutes and 46 seconds = 365.2422 days).  This slight inaccuracy caused the Julian calendar to slip behind the seasons about one day per century.  Although this regression had amounted to 14 days by Pope Gregory’s time, he based his reform on restoration of the vernal equinox, then falling on March 11, to the date had 1,257 years earlier when Council of Nicaea was convened (March 21, 325 C.E.).  Pope Gregory made the correction by advancing the calendar 10 days.  The change was made the day after October 4, 1582, and that following day was established as October 15, 1582.  The Gregorian calendar differs from the Julian in three ways:  (1) No century year is a leap year unless it is exactly divisible by 400 (e.g., 1600, 2000, etc.); (2) Years divisible by 4000 are common (not leap) years; and (3) once again the New Year would begin with the date set by the early pagans, the first day of the month of Janus – January 1.

On New Years Day 1577 Pope Gregory XIII decreed that all Roman Jews, under pain of death, must listen attentively to the compulsory Catholic conversion sermon given in Roman synagogues after Friday night services.  On New Years Day 1578 Gregory signed into law a tax forcing Jews to pay for the support of a “House of Conversion” to convert Jews to Christianity.  On New Years 1581 Gregory ordered his troops to confiscate all sacred literature from the Roman Jewish community.  Thousands of Jews were murdered in the campaign.

Throughout the medieval and post-medieval periods, January 1 – supposedly the day on which Jesus’ circumcision initiated the reign of Christianity and the death of Judaism – was reserved for anti-Jewish activities: synagogue and book burnings, public tortures, and simple murder.

The Israeli term for New Year’s night celebrations, “Sylvester,” was the name of the “Saint” and Roman Pope who reigned during the Council of Nicaea (325 C.E.).  The year before the Council of Nicaea convened, Sylvester convinced Constantine to prohibit Jews from living in Jerusalem.  At the Council of Nicaea, Sylvester arranged for the passage of a host of viciously anti-Semitic legislation.  All Catholic “Saints” are awarded a day on which Christians celebrate and pay tribute to that Saint’s memory.  December 31 is Saint Sylvester Day – hence celebrations on the night of December 31 are dedicated to Sylvester’s memory.