Man admits punching music mogul Marion "Suge" Knight
A man who rap music mogul Marion "Suge" Knight ran over admitted he punched him before an encounter that left his friend dead.
Cle "Bone" Sloan testified about the day he and Terry Carter were hit by a pick-up truck driven by Knight, the co-founder of Death Row Records.
But he refused to identify Knight as the man behind the wheel when he was struck outside a Compton burger stand on January 29.
He did not remember specifics of the fight and does not want to be a "snitch", he said.
"I will not be used to send 'Suge' Knight to prison," Mr Sloan, an adviser on the upcoming film Straight Outta Compton, said, adding that he was only on the stand because he was subpoenaed.
Knight, 49, was a key player in the gangster rap scene that flourished in the 1990s, and his label once listed Dr Dre, Tupac Shakur and Snoop Dogg among its artists. Knight lost control of the company after it was forced into bankruptcy.
He has previous convictions for armed robbery and assault with a gun. He pleaded no contest in 1995 and was sentenced to five years' probation for assaulting two rappers at a Hollywood recording studio in 1992.
Sloan's testimony was offered during a preliminary hearing in Los Angeles yesterday during which a judge will decide whether there is enough evidence for Knight to stand trial on murder, attempted murder, and hit-and-run charges.
The authorities claim Knight intentionally hit Mr Sloan and Mr Carter. But Knight's lawyer Matt Fletcher says his client was ambushed and was trying to escape an attack when he hit the men.
Judge Ronald Coen said the hearing would resume on Thursday morning, when he will rule on whether the case should go to trial.
Mr Sloan suffered two fractured ankles, a serious cut to his head, two torn ligaments in his knees and a shoulder injury.
"Every day, I try to forget it," he said. "I just know, I screwed up, and Terry's dead."
His memory troubles prompted the judge to comment: "I find that this witness is being deceptive."
Mr Sloan's faltering memory on the witness stand was contrasted by a lucid account of the events that led to his injuries with detectives on January 29.
In an hour-long recorded interview, he quickly recalled details and told detectives how he attacked Knight twice in the burger stand car park.
He told detectives he wanted justice and would testify, but that he did not want to "be the guy who says (Knight) killed Terry".
The conflicting statements show the difficulty of prosecuting Knight, who was one of the music industry's most feared names and who prosecutors say has a history of witness intimidation.
Mr Sloan agreed when Knight's lawyer asked him whether he attacked Knight, who had not been violent toward him.
The former gang member-turned-film consultant planned to invoke his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination during part of his testimony, but a prosecutor granted him limited immunity.
Mr Sloan said he still did not remember what occurred before his confrontation with Knight.
He denied he brought a gun to the fight, as Knight's lawyers have suggested.
Knight faces up to life in prison if convicted of killing Mr Carter. He is being held on 25 million dollar (€23 million) bail, an amount Mr Fletcher has argued is excessive.