COMPTON, California (CNN) — Former rap mogul Marion “Suge” Knight pleaded not guilty Tuesday to murder charges in a fatal hit-and-run incident before complaining of chest pains in court and being taken to the hospital.
Knight, 49, stood in a defendant’s box next to his attorneys and intently read the complaint against him as the hearing opened.
Wearing a Los Angeles County orange inmate jumpsuit, he glanced back into the gallery several times in the Compton, California, courtroom during the brief hearing and answered the judge’s questions politely with, “Yes, sir, your honor.”
Later in the session, Knight was transported to a hospital after saying he was having chest pains, according to Officer John Gardner of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Information Bureau.
He faces up to life in prison if convicted in the fatal hit-and-run in Compton last week. Knight is accused of running over two men, killing one of them, following an argument.
The man who died was Terry Carter, 55. The second man is Cle “Bone” Sloan, 51.
Sloan’s attorney, Michael Shapiro, said Tuesday that his client is in shock and has suffered a serious concussion and may not be able to walk again. Sloan’s left foot was mangled in the alleged hit-and-run, Shapiro said.
The attorney added that his client is out of the hospital now and is in a secret location with hired protection.
Knight, who was out on bail in a separate robbery case, is charged with one count of murder, one count of attempted murder, and two counts of hit-and-run with an allegation that he committed a serious and violent felony while out on bail, the district attorney’s office said in a statement.
He has prior convictions, “making this a third strike case,” it said.
Knight turned himself in to Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department investigators early Friday.
CNN affiliate KCAL-TV and the Los Angeles Times quoted his attorney, James Blatt, as saying Knight feared for his life and was trying to flee when the incident occurred.
“We feel strongly Mr. Knight did not do anything wrong in this matter. He was attacked by a number of individuals; that has already been corroborated by certain witnesses. He left the scene because he was in fear for his safety and life,” he said.
Knight founded the wildly successful Death Row Records in 1991, signing artists such as Snoop Doggy Dogg (since then known as Snoop Dogg and Snoop Lion) and Tupac Shakur.
Knight was driving the car in which Shakur was a passenger when the rapper was shot to death in Las Vegas in 1996.
Shortly afterward, Knight spent several years in prison for violating parole on assault and weapons convictions. That prison time — along with Shakur’s death, feuds between Knight and a number of rappers and desertions by Dr. Dre, Snoop and others — contributed to the label’s bankruptcy in 2006.
In August, Knight and two other people were shot while inside a celebrity-filled Sunset Strip party hosted by singer Chris Brown on the eve of the MTV Video Music Awards.