The jury on Friday in California’s civil trial found itself “deadlocked” over whether Suge Knight should be held liable – and should pay millions in damages – for the murder of married Compton father Terry Carter with his Ford Raptor truck seven years ago linked to the NWA biopic with another man amid a parking lot argument Direct from Compton.
The jury told the judge their vote was split seven to five, without confirming which way they leaned. They need nine votes out of 12 for a wrongful death verdict that focuses on negligence and personal injury claims.
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The judge let the jury go home early and ordered them to come back Tuesday morning to keep trying.
“We recognize that you are going through a very difficult separation, but everyone agrees that we want to try to bring this case to a close if at all possible,” said Thomas D. Long, Justice of the Los County Superior Court Angeles. “We want to make sure that all efforts at judgment are exhausted one way or another.”
The admonition came after the jury sent a note to the judge late Thursday, which said: “We are currently unable to cast nine downvoted votes for battery or negligence.”
In a rare move, the judge returned the advisory jury to the courtroom Friday morning, allowing both sides an additional five minutes of closing arguments on two new orders related to Knight’s allegation that he acted in self-defense when he ran over a man named Cle “Bone” Sloan before beating and killing Carter, 55.
Knight and Sloan, a former gang member, turned around Direct from Compton Employee, had fought his way through the driver’s side window of Knight’s truck before the Ford F-150 Raptor backed up, knocking Sloan to the ground and then darting forward again, hurtling over Sloan’s body which was lying on the road and mowing down Carter, Surveillance video showing the fatal incident on January 29th 2015 outside Tam’s Burgers in Compton.
The new instructions both related to whether Knight can avoid liability in the case by using self-defense.
“If you believe Marion ‘Suge’ Knight acted lawfully in self-defense, he must do so with reasonable care to avoid injury to innocent bystanders,” read one of the new instructions given on Friday. The second instruction read, “The right to self-defense ceases when there is no apparent threat of further violence from the attacker,” even after an alleged victim has acted in self-defense and used “sufficient force against his attacker to render the attacker manifestly incapacitated, inflict further injuries.”
In his additional five-minute closing argument, Carter family attorney Lance Behringer argued that Knight was no longer in imminent danger after Sloan was thrown from the truck and was curled up on the ground.
“He knocks him down. He has 100 percent right to do so. If someone is after you, you have the right to hit them. You have to do what you have to do,” Behringer said. But once Sloan was on the ground and didn’t move, the threat was neutralized, the attorney said. “At this point you have to stop. That’s the law, and you have to obey the law,” Behringer argued. “You can’t just go crazy and bring people down.”
Knight’s attorney, David Kenner, argued that his client was the victim of what he believed to be a coordinated armed ambush by several men. Kenner said Carter, a well-connected local businessman, invited Knight to Tam’s to help arrange payment for the use of Knight’s name and likeness Direct from Comptondid not meet the definition of an innocent bystander.
“He’s not an innocent bystander when he gets involved in the confrontation. He sees what Cle ‘Bone’ Sloan is doing and enters this scene. He’s next to the car and a tragic accident happened,” Kenner argued, asking the jury to review the video. “It was an unfortunate accident. This was not the result of negligence.”
Carter’s wife, Lillian Carter, got up and left the courtroom before Behringer showed the vivid video of her husband’s death. Carter’s two daughters, Nekaya and Crystal, stayed, but Crystal buried her face in her hands while Nekaya appeared to look away.
Knight, 57, is now serving 28 years behind bars after not pleading a contest to Carter’s voluntary manslaughter under a deal that avoided a threatened murder trial and a possible life sentence if convicted.
Knight gave his first-ever courtroom testimony about the incident during the civil trial, appearing remotely from prison. He claimed to have visited the production base camp of Direct from Compton That day hoping Dr. Meeting Dre in person to let him know, police allegedly told Knight that the former NWA member, Beats by Dre producer and mogul had paid someone to kill him.
dr Dre, born Andre Young, has denied the allegation through his attorneys. Knight, meanwhile, claimed in his statement that he simply hooked up with Dr. Wanted to meet Dre to let him know he didn’t believe the murder-murder allegation. Despite this, Knight told the jury that he believed his life was in danger when Sloan, who testified during Knight’s trial that he was a technical advisor to Dr. Dre worked Direct from Compton, attacked him outside of Tam, allegedly pointing a gun at him. (Sloan testified in 2015 that he did not have a gun at the confrontation.)
Carter’s family is seeking $81 million in damages. The judge ordered the jury to resume deliberations Tuesday morning.
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